Ten Simple Tips To Get Started in Pokemon

If you've never played the original core series before, start here

Nintendo Pokemon Go character Pikachu and iPhone
Getty Images/CatLane

With the hit success of Pokemon Go, a whole new breed of fan is experiencing the franchise for the very first time. Compared to the simplistic mechanics of Pokemon Go, the main series of Pokemon games can be daunting. However, no matter where you find yourself starting, there are a plethora of tips that apply to every single main series game, no matter which one you choose to start with. 

We've gathered 10 tips to help new trainers get the most out of their Pokemon experience.

We recommend that before you consult a full walkthrough, or try any particular Pokemon team, you first consult these tips and try and make the best choice you can. After all, one of the most alluring aspects of Pokemon is that you build your team, which will be a little different than anyone else's. 

1. What's a "Gen?"

If you're just getting into the Pokemon franchise, you've probably heard the term "gen" to describe the games. "Gen" is short for "generation" and refers to the time period in which a specific game was released. Here's a handy guide to the specific generations of Pokemon main titles:

1st Gen: Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow (also Green in Japan)
Available for: Game Boy, Nintendo 3DS eShop

2nd Gen: Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal
Available for: Game Boy Color

3rd Gen: Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald; Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green (remakes of Pokemon Red and Blue) 
Available for: Game Boy Advance

4th Gen: Pokemon Pearl, Pokemon Diamond, and Platinum; Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver (remakes of Pokemon Gold and Silver)
Available for: Nintendo DS

5th Gen: Pokemon White, Pokemon Black, Pokemon White 2, Pokemon Black 2
Available for: Nintendo DS

6th Gen: Pokemon X and Y; Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (remakes of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire)
Available for: Nintendo 3DS

7th Gen:  Pokemon Sun and Moon
Available for: Nintendo 3DS

Each generation brought new features, new Pokemon and added new ways for Pokemon to battle and for you to develop your relationship with them. Which one is the best to start with? We'll discuss that in the next tip, which is a very important one if you're just getting started. 

2. Which Pokemon Game Should I Start With? 

The core gameplay of Pokemon remains the same in each main series entry: You capture and train monsters to use to fight against other trainers with the goal of becoming the champion of the Pokemon league. However, they differ greatly in setting, which Pokemon are available, side quests, and features. 

This is a completely subjective question, and there's really no wrong answer. The difficulty of the Pokemon series is geared so they can be enjoyed by fans of all ages, so most people who give the series a try won't find themselves in a position where they don't know what to do. Newer Pokemon games have features that make leveling Pokemon and other actions more convenient, but there's a lot to be said for starting with the basics. That's why we recommend starting with Pokemon Red, Blue or Yellow. 

Although they can seem a bit outdated, the 1st Gen Pokemon games are a great introduction to the series and lack some of the more complicated mechanisms that have now become standard for the series.

The core gameplay experience of the Pokemon main series is present, and the 1st Gen games are a great acid test for whether or not you want to continue with the rest of the series. Additionally, now that they've been released on the 3DS eShop, you can trade Pokemon from the 1st gen titles into the latest 6th gen titles, meaning that for the first time, as long as you have the right equipment, you could play every Pokemon game besides the 2nd gen and then trade all those Pokemon into the latest game. 

3. You Don't Have to Stick with Your Starter Pokemon

At the beginning of each Pokemon game, a professor (of Pokemon) will present you with the chance to pick your very first Pokemon from three choices.

For most people, this Pokemon ends up being the linchpin of their team, for better or for worse. 

However, you're not stuck with your starter at all. In fact, as soon as you catch one Pokemon, you could throw your starter in your Pokemon Storage and never get them out again. 

Unfortunately, most Pokemon that are available to catch at the start of each game are nowhere near your starter Pokemon in raw stats and growth potential. However, as soon as you find a Pokemon you like, you're free to relocate your starter to the sidelines. If you're looking for an extra challenge this can be a fun option to do as well. 

4. Train Your Pokemon Evenly

Although newer Pokemon games distribute your experience points gained by winning battles to your whole team, older entries make you do it the hard way. A bad habit many a trainer has found themselves engaged in is over-leveling one Pokemon at the expense of the rest of their team. 

Pokemon isn't a difficult series, and that can lull trainers into letting their guard down and just keeping one Pokemon (usually their starter) in the top position of their team so the same Pokemon gets sent in to fight in every battle. However, Pokemon each have a "type" which plays into a "rock, paper, scissors" type scenario during battle. If your main Pokemon is a water-type and it's the only one you've been leveling and you enter an Electric-type gym, the rest of your Pokemon might not have the strength to make up for your main Pokemon's type deficiency. 

To avoid all this, just make sure that you give each of your Pokemon a turn to fight a battle when you can.

Keep a rotation and switch it after each battle and you'll have a well-rounded team which you'll find yourself more attached to, which will increase your enjoyment of the game. 

5. Keep Your Poke-Friends Healed

It's essential to keep your Pokemon in tip-top shape so you'll always be prepared for battle. No matter how strong you think your Pokemon are, there are always flukes in which a full health bar might mean the difference between surviving an attack or losing a battle. 

Pokemon is an RPG (role-playing game) so although each attack will do roughly the same damage most of the time, the actual damage is determined at random between a lower and higher range of damage. Additionally, there are type-weaknesses, and critical hits which cause twice the damage to worry about. 

Your Pokemon's happiness also figures into several of the series' features. If you let your Pokemon faint often their happiness and friendliness with you will decrease, which can affect their stats, or even their opportunity to evolve. Just keep them healed by visiting a PokeCenter when you enter a town. It's for your Pokemon's health. 

6. Catch 'Em as You Go

Besides becoming the Pokemon Champion, there is an underlying goal in each game to fill your Pokedex by catching one of each Pokemon available. This goal becomes loftier the newer the game is, with the 1st gen games having only 150 Pokemon needed to complete their Pokedex, and the latest 6th Gen having a whopping 719 Pokemon you'll need to find to truly catch them all.

 

The easiest way to accomplish this is just to catch each wild Pokemon you meet if it's a species you haven't caught already. If you do this, by the time you beat the Elite Four and become the Pokemon League Champ, there shouldn't be too much available in your current game to catch. If you wait until after you become Pokemon Champ to go back through the whole game to start actively catching Pokemon you'll find yourself in a frustrating situation because you'll basically have to walk through the entire game again. 

7. Watch for Shinys (Or, How to Catch Rare Pokemon)

Starting with Gen 2, wild Pokemon had a very small chance to appear in battle with a different color scheme and a special shiny animation. These Pokemon are extremely rare and one of even the most common Pokemon in shiny form can give you incredible leverage when it comes to trading for a Pokemon you want (though you should probably just keep it.) 

It's usually good to keep at least one weaker Pokemon on your team just in case you run into one of these beauties. You'll know you've found a shiny because of their color pattern and an animation that plays when the battle starts. Throw out the stops to catch any shiny Pokemon you encounter because the chance of them appearing is so rare that it may not happen again for years. 

8. You Don't Have to Catch Them All If You Don't Want To

While catching all the available Pokemon if a huge goal for many players, some are content either with a smaller amount made up of their very favorite species, or they prefer to collect only the strongest Pokemon in the strongest species by breeding the perfect specimens. 

How you play the game is up to you. Pokemon games don't have time limits and they don't have rigid objectives. Each event in the story will wait as long as you take to get to it and once you actually complete the story and side quests, you're free to roam the world at will. 

Set your own goals! You can hunt for shiny Pokemon, try to beat the game with only one Pokemon, or a team of the weakest Pokemon. The possibilities are limitless!

9. Trade 'Em Up

Each Pokemon game comes with a fairly large time investment. Most players will spend at least 20 to 40 hours on each title, and some people have over 1000 hours on their Pokemon saves. In each game, you'll find a favorite Pokemon, have a trusty starter, and spend a ton of time battling with them. Unlike the majority of RPGs though, your Pokefriends are able to come with you on your next adventure!

After you've finally soaked up everything a Pokemon title has to do, you have the option to trade them to a new game and have a new adventure with them! Once you reach the first town in each game, the trading system for that game will be available. Though it can be a cumbersome process with some titles, you can bring your Pokemon all the way from the original 3rd gen titles on Game Boy Advance to the latest 6th gen titles. It'll help you fill up your Pokedex too!

10. Play with Friends

While Pokemon Go has a huge following, the game lacks something that the core Pokemon series has had since its inception on the original Game Boy: You can actually play with your friends.

Although every generation of Pokemon titles has the ability to be linked so that you can trade or battle Pokemon with a friend, the latest generation of titles has added the internet into the mix, so if you and your friends have a 6th Gen title, you don't even have to be in the same room as them to trade.