The evolution of Pokemon: How the popular 90s games have transitioned to appeal to the modern gamer


Nerve Entertainment’s Scott Riley takes a look at how the gaming franchise has adapted since its 4th generation to appeal to today’s Pokemon fans

With Pokemon Sun and Moon’s release just around the corner and the demo version available on the Nintendo eShop, let’s use this time to look back at the last few generations of the hit series and explore its evolution (no pun intended).

One decade ago, Nintendo published Pokemon Diamond and Pearl for the DS and DS Lite, developed by Game Freak. These were the first of many entries released on the platform, and introduced a wealth of new features. We saw a revamped day-night system, the “Poketch”, or “Pokemon Watch”, and on the gameplay front, a new battle system which altered the way in which physical and special attacks function. The series made a leap into the realms of online connectivity thanks to the DS’s WiFi capabilities, allowing players to battle and trade with each other around the globe.

Visually, Diamond and Pearl boasted an attractive new colour palette, far nicer on the eyes than those included in its Game Boy predecessors. Diamond and Pearl’s story immersed players in the region of “Sinnoh” as they travelled about and encountered the legendary Pokemon “Dialga” or “Palkia”, depending on which version of the game the player owned.

Black and White teased the future of Pokemon games in terms of graphics

Fast-forward to 2010 and the 5th generation of Pokemon in the form of Pokemon Black and White, also for the Nintendo DS platform. Black and White introduced 156 brand new Pokemon, more than ever before, including new legendaries ‘Reshiram’ and “Zekrom”. This generation of the series came loaded with “Double Wind” and “Triple/Rotation” battles, the latter of which allowed gripping three-vs-three battles. On the multiplayer front, Black and White introduced the ‘Wonder Launcher’, a feature allowing players to earn and use items in multiplayer battles.

Black and White teased the future of Pokemon games in terms of graphics with the addition of some three-dimensional elements that were not present in the games prior to its release. This made the journey through the new, far-away region of “Unova” more pleasing for the eyes.

After the launch of the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, a Pokemon game was needed on the new hardware. This materialised as Pokemon X and Y, the beginning of the 6th generation, which released in late 2013 and took great leaps to make use of the 3DS’s new features and capabilities. In terms of gameplay, X and Y brought “Mega Evolution”, Trainer character customisation, and last but not least, rollerblades to replace the bicycle that existed in the old games. X and Y also boasted “Lumiose City”, a hub unlike any other seen in the series.


However, the most noticeable upgrade was that of the graphics, which showed the “Kalos” region in a more three-dimensional way, whilst taking advantage of the 3DS’s 3D functionality for an even more impressive spectacle.

In summary, those are the key upgrades and new features introduced in the last few Pokemon generations. Only a little longer until we can all happily sink the rest of our lives into Pokemon Sun and Moon, releasing in the UK on November 23rd.