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I have not had much Pokemon interest in the past, but I have an extended trip coming up and am looking to give it a try. I've spent my life learning enough about other magical universes, but just never got on the Pokemon train. My concern now is that I am obviously coming into the phenom quite late, so most things related to the Pokemon universe are foreign to me. I like to know all the lore (if that exists in this universe), and not miss important things in the series.

Am I gimping myself and my understanding of the series if I start with a certain title?

What would be the best path in order to start playing without digging my GameBoy out of the basement to play Red/Blue/Green?

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If it's lore you're after, Diamond/Pearl/Platinum has a lot of it. –  Niet the Dark Absol Mar 29 '14 at 18:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 17 down vote accepted

I don't think there's anything lost by not playing previous generations; just buy the newest games. All the newest DS games (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver) can connect to each other.

The battle mechanics were hugely overhauled after the "Advanced Generation" (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen), so I would not recommend starting with those games. If you do, it will take a little time to adjust when you start playing the DS games.

Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Gold, Silver, and Crystal cannot connect to the newer games, so if you think you will become attached to the Pokemon you catch and train in them, it's not a good idea to start with them. Pokemon from the GBA games can be "migrated" to the newer DS games, but you need to have a DS with both a DS and GBA slot (the original DS and the DS Lite).

In short, I suggest you start with either HeartGold or SoulSilver, as those are the newest games.

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Excellent advice, thanks! –  kazzamalla Aug 5 '10 at 18:33
Excellent use of pointing out the technical difficulties of going from one generation to the next. –  tzenes Aug 6 '10 at 0:06
For completeness sake, I bought HeartGold and have very much been enjoying it! –  kazzamalla Sep 7 '10 at 14:57

If you don't want to play the first gen, but still want to not miss anything you could start out by playing the third gen remakes of the first Gen: Fire Red and Leaf Green. Then go to the much newer HeartGold and SoulSilver, then back to Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, then Diamond/Pearl/Platnium, Black/White, Black 2/White 2, X/Y, etc. This will progress with the original game order only substituting the first two's remakes in for them. The disadvantage with this is, that with HG&SS in there, you'll be going from GBA graphics, to DS, to GBA, to DS, along with the battle systems changing between the third and fourth game, so you might want to play RSE before that.

Although, considering playing all the game would take a long time, and they're pretty separate, I'd probably recommend starting with HeartGold or SoulSilver then go to Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, or maybe just start with Platinum.(I'd recommend it because it has more features, better graphics, and stuff than D&P.)

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Thanks! I think I'll try HG/SS first as you and several others recommend! –  kazzamalla Aug 5 '10 at 18:33

You will not miss any "lore" by avoiding the earliest games. The majority of the games are each in a self-contained region, and while your actions in the game usually involves saving that area from a criminal organization known as a "Team" (e.g. Team Rocket, Team Magma, Team Galaxy, etc.), none of the other regions refer to any of the others, other than possibly containing "foreign" pokemon.

Ironically, the one game pair in the series, Gold/Silver, that does refer to previous areas, is the most recent version of the game (Heart Gold / Soul Silver), but even this is only in passing, and only apparent if you're familiar with how things were in the region previously. (And not highly relevent. Example -- the Safari Zone is now closed because the warden is on vacation.)

The bottom line? Pokemon is not popular for its plot; don't let that determine which version to buy. If you're just starting with the series, the most recent games are as good of a place to start as any.

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Because you haven't had a lot of experience in the series, it is not as if you'll have problems adjusting to mechanical changes implemented on later generations, like the physical-special split. Nor would you miss any of the special features that were in earlier versions. All of the games are isolated in their stories and walk you through everything, so you don't have to worry about getting lost.

Assuming you have the right platform, the best idea in general is to play whichever generation is the one you expect to interact with other people in. While the game is perfectly serviceable alone, you get a lot more out of your playtime if you have someone else to game with, and that'll only work if their generation matches yours.

This is generally going to be the latest generation, since that's what most people will be playing at the time. It's also the generation which is most likely to still have official events going on, meaning great chances to get the event-only Pokemon. Starting 4th generation, it's also possible to interact across the world, which means you don't even need friends in your immediate vicinity. Also, later generations have more Pokemon which generally means a lot more options for team experimentation.

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So, would "current" generation be HeartGold/SoulSilver or Platinum? Maybe this is a separate question, but what would you say are the benefits of each if both are somewhat current? –  kazzamalla Aug 5 '10 at 18:01
@kazza Both are the current generation. And this I would say is where personal choice comes in - what exclusive features are the ones that attract you. For example, a friend of mine had to select Pearl (back when 4th gen first came out) because it had Misdreavus. If there aren't any exclusive features that attract you strongly, choose your favorite color. –  Grace Note Aug 5 '10 at 18:10
True, but I was under the impression that SoulSilver/HeartGold was a remake of two older titles (Gold/Silver from 1999), versus Diamond/Pearl/Platinum all being flavors of the same completely new game from 2006. SoulSilver/HeartGold came out more recently than Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, so likely the graphics/gameplay is more refined, but it also is a remake, so it probably has less of the innovative features that the newer Diamond/Pearl/Platinum has. I think your point is either of these would be a great start for a new player, just curious what you thought might be the best starting point. –  kazzamalla Aug 5 '10 at 18:16
@kazza HGSS is a rehash more than a remake. It follows the same story and region as Gold/Silver, but it is no less of a 4th generation game than DPPt. It has many new features that aren't even in DPPt, like having Pokemon follow around behind you (I'd love to have a Ninjask following me ♪). Don't let its status as a "remake" affect your decision - it's basically a new game, and only familiar if you've even played the original Gold/Silver (and I myself skipped 2nd Gen and went straight to 3rd). –  Grace Note Aug 5 '10 at 18:25
Wonderful! Thanks! So your vote then would be to get HGSS? Then, if I really enjoy it, go back and try Platinum? –  kazzamalla Aug 5 '10 at 18:31

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