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Why do Pokemon games have two different versions?

Pokemon role-playing games (RPGs) were first released in 1996, available to play on the Game Boy. Today, 26 years and 8 Pokemon generations later, these games are more of a hit than ever.

Since Pokemon Red and Green/Blue, all mainline Pokemon games have seen a dual – or sometimes triple – release.

The different versions of the same game title have caused excitement and confusion in equal measure, with diehard fans buying both versions of the games but most wondering why exactly these games are released in different editions.

Pokemon games have two different versions mainly because it allows players to collect version-exclusive Pokemon. Earlier, the goal of the creators was to encourage players to socialize and engage in trading Pokemon to complete their Pokedex. Now, it’s more a tradition.

Some people believe that releasing different editions is a mere marketing and money-making gimmick, while some think it’s a great way to keep the Pokemon spirit of trading alive.

In this article, I will discuss what exactly are the differences between these titles and whether it’s worth buying both versions of the same game.

What is the difference between Pokemon game versions?

The primary difference between Pokemon game versions is the unique types of Pokemon exclusive to each version. Other differences include colors and aesthetic, different Gym Leaders and Professors, and minor differences in storyline.

The functionality, principal plotline, and gameplay experience is identical. The differences mainly cater to subjective player preferences.

The exclusivity of Pokemon, though, is a major deciding factor.

All of the Pokemon twin games have certain Pokemon that are obtainable in one particular region. These location-exclusive, restricted-access Pokemon can be caught in either version without trading.

Why do Pokemon games have two different versions?
Legendary Pokemon | Source: Official Website

This difference becomes more pronounced when you take Legendary Pokemon into the mix.

For example, in the upcoming Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, players will have to choose between which Legendary Pokemon seems more appealing, Koraidon, who is the mascot of Pokemon Scarlet, or Miraidon, the mascot for Pokemon Violet.

These Legendary Pokemon are also sometimes the cause for a slight change in storyline; Pokemon Ruby is about the Groudon who threatens to scorch the land, while Pokemon Sapphire features Kyogre, who has the power to drown the region.

In Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Team Galactic, the enemy, is on the quest to call upon the Legendary Pokemon Dialga in Brilliant Diamond, and Palkia in Shining Pearl.

While these differences are minute, sometimes it so happens that franchise-favorites appear only in one version and not the other: Ho-oh, for example, can only be seen in Brilliant Diamond. Shining Pearl players can only find Lugia. Similarly, Arcanine, I remember, was only present in Pokemon Fire Red and not in Pokemon Leaf Green.

The differences are also sometimes apparent and wide when it comes to evolution types of version-exclusive Pokemons.

In Pokemon X, we had Charizardite X, and in Pokemon Y, we had Charizardite Y. While both have similar stats, it’s honestly obvious that Charizardite X’s Fire-Dragon typing is way better than Charizard Y’s Fire-Flying type.

Why do Pokemon games have two different versions?
Charizardite X And Charizardite Y | Source: Fandom

These kinds of differences were way more pronounced in previous generations of the games. In Pokémon Red and Blue, Pokemon Red was glaringly better than Pokemon Green (Japan) or Blue (global). But eventually the makers began distributing Pokemon more equally between both versions.

As for characters and locations, the differences are tiny and superficial. For example, in Pokemon Sapphire, Team Aqua is the primary antagonist, while in Pokemon Ruby, it’s Team Magma. This has more to do with matching colors to names than any other major difference.

In Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, there are version exclusive professors: Professor Sada for Scarlet and Professor Turo for Violet. The academies are also different within each version – Naranja Academy for Scarlet, and Uva Academy for Violet – but as far as I know, these are just different on the surface.

Is it worth buying both versions of Pokemon games?

You should buy both versions of Pokemon games each year ONLY if you wish to literally “catch ‘em all” and complete your Pokedex. Or if you own two Nintendo Switch consoles so you can trade Pokemon with yourself. For the average player, the version differences are inconsequential.

1. Why You Should Consider Getting Both Pokemon Game Versions

The original ambition of the game creator, Satoshi Tajiri, was to implement a system whereby gamers could do more than just battle each other. He was originally a bug collector, and he wanted to collect all species and types of bugs. Trading was the ideal way to make his collection.

Inspired by the game Dragon Quest Frustration, he came up with paired versions of games, meant to be bought separately by friends, so they could trade version-exclusive Pokemon with each other.

Why do Pokemon games have two different versions?
Pokemon Sun and Moon | Source: Official Website

The intent was to make it impossible to complete your Pokedex with a single game, so you would have to trade Pokemon with someone else who had the other version to get a complete collection.

If you have a friend circle that is into Pokemon gaming, this is a great way to keep the Pokemon tradition alive. You and your friends can buy different versions of the same game so you can catch different Pokemon but trade them amongst each other.

Even if your goal isn’t to complete the Pokedex anymore, you can still see the cool designs and features of version-exclusive Pokemon, especially Legendaries.

Alternately, some people even purchase two game consoles and both versions of the game so they don’t have to give away their Pokemon to someone else. Trading with yourself also has the added advantage of trade evolutions.  

Apart from this, you might also consider buying both copies if you know before-hand that the versions are going to be more different than usual.

If you go back to Pokemon Sun and Moon, the creators really took it up a notch by having Pokemon Sun’s gaming clock syncing with the player’s clock, while Pokemon Moon’s gaming clock being opposite to the player’s clock.

Why do Pokemon games have two different versions?
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet | Source: Official Website

Some players noted that this had affected which Pokemon would appear in the wilderness and when.

With the latest Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, there are some speculations that Scarlet is going to be based on the past and Violet on the future. This could be a gamechanger. I’d definitely buy both just to ensure I don’t miss out on anything important.

2. Why You Shouldn’t Consider Getting Both Pokemon Game Versions

The top reason why buying both versions is redundant is internet trading.

Earlier you had to meet new people who played Pokemon and convince them to trade. Today, even if you don’t step out of the house or even have friends that play Pokemon, you can easily indulge in in-game trades, or join an online gaming community to deal with trading your Pokemon.

Pokemon was a social game back in the day; with the internet in the picture; its foundation has been shaken.

Players don’t really have to seek each other out anymore; you can catch ‘em all pretty easily if you know where to look. Pokemon Emerald and Platinum even proved that players can get both Legendaries in a single version.

Why do Pokemon games have two different versions?
Pokemon Emerald and Platinum | Source: IMDb

If they came up with something like you can only gain a particular rare power-up or feature if you collect both version-exclusive Legendaries, then it would definitely be worth it to buy both versions.

But I don’t see this happening. For Scarlet and Violet, they’ve already released a new transformation called Terastallizing, which like Dynamaxing, is available in both versions.

So, unless you think it’s a big deal to miss out on a couple of version-exclusive Pokemon, or really want to own both colors and designs of the same game, just check which aesthetic and exclusive Pokemon you like better and choose that version to buy. 

Watch Pokémon on:

About Pokémon

Pokémon was first released in 1996 and is set up in a world where humans catch monsters and store them in pocket-sized poke-balls.

They are creatures with an affinity to certain elements and some superhuman abilities related to that element.

Revolving around a teenage boy Ash Ketchum, Pokémon takes us through his journey to becoming the most accomplished Pokémon trainer the world has ever seen.

Originally Written By Epic Dope

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Vansh Gulati

Vansh Gulati

Meet our very own Hinata Shoyo! - There is no anime or manga that he’s not aware of. Also the go-to guy for all things Epic at EML. He’s on a journey to discover life one bottle of sake at a time!
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