- Pokemon Red, Blue, Green, Gold, and Silver
- Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, and Pearl
- Pokemon Black and White
- Pokemon X and Y
- Pokemon Sun and Moon
- Pokemon Sword and Shield
- Pokemon Colosseum and Rangers
- New Pokemon Snap
Pokemon has taken players to a ton of unique locations over the past 25 years. With the core series, spin-offs, and remakes, there has been plenty for long-time and new fans alike to enjoy. One of the best things about the areas Pokemon introduces are they’re based on real-world locations.
While many of the earlier games took inspiration from different regions of Japan, newer generations have expanded their horizons. Locations from around the world have been used as the base of Pokemon games since Generation 5. These places often have major landmarks incorporated into the regions, which adds a both grounded yet surreal feel to the world of Pokemon.
Pokemon Red, Blue, Green, Gold, and Silver
The first two generations of Pokemon games took place in the Kanto region for Red and Blue, and Johto for Gold and Silver. Both locations are based on regions of Japan – and Gen 1’s Kanto even shares its name with the real-life location. Kanto also incorporates parts of the Chubu region, which is shared with Pokemon Gold and Silver’s Johto region. This is developed further in Gen 2 as Johto and Kanto neighbor each other and can both be visited.
Johto expanded beyond just Kanto though, as it also incorporates the Kansai and Shikoku regions of Japan into its map. When combined with Kanto as well as the Sevii Islands, which are based on the Izu and Bonin Islands, much of Japan’s southeastern coast is used for inspiration in the first two generations of Pokemon games. The connection of Kanto and Johto is part of what has made the early days of Pokemon so iconic alongside its mascot Pokemon like Charizard and Blastoise.
Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, and Pearl
Pokemon’s third and fourth Generation regions were also based on parts of Japan, albeit on opposite ends of the map from one another. Hoenn is largely based on the southern regions of Japan, incorporating Kyushu and its surrounding islands into the region’s map. The warm climates of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire are home to some fan-favorite Pokemon, including several snake-like Pokemon such as Milotic and Seviper.
Sinnoh, however, is based largely on the Hokkaido region of Japan and the country's northernmost main island, but it also pulls inspiration from the islands of Sakhalin and Kunashir. The area has been focused on heavily as of late with Gen 4 remakes, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, releasing in over two months.
Pokemon Black and White
Unova is the core series' first break away from regions in Japan. Based on New York City’s metro area, it encompasses a solid amount of space. The region includes geographical inspirations from New York state, Manhattan, as well as New Jersey. Unova has been able to retain a lot of fan admiration over the years due to its uniqueness and mechanics like seasons in Pokemon Black and White.
Features like this could affect gameplay and make playthroughs feel different every time. While each region has its own interpretation of time, as well as weather, Black and White remain the only games to have dedicated seasons. The return of this feature would be great to see in future games, and is something Pokemon Legends: Arceus could make use of.
Pokemon X and Y
Pokemon’s Gen 6 games continued to use locations outside of Japan, with Kalos being largely based on the northern half of France. While it also pulls inspiration from Alderney, it is very apparent that much of the region's design is inspired by the more metropolitan regions of France. Lumiose City feels a lot like Paris, and the Gym even bears a resemblance to the Eiffel Tower.
Pokemon Sun and Moon
Alola and Generation 7 venture to a more tropical part of the world, as the region draws on the islands of Hawai’i. The volcanic chain of islands is full of lush environments and a rich ecosystem, something that Pokemon Sun and Moon capture well. The games also break away from the traditional Gym format with the use of the Island Challenge, and simultaneously introduce regional variants in the franchise with additions like Alolan Ninetails.
While they still allowed the Mega Evolutions from Gen 6, Pokemon Sun and Moon and their successors Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon also introduced Ultra Beasts. While similar to regular Pokemon, the extradimensional Ultra Beasts are a lot stronger than many common companions.
Pokemon Sword and Shield
The Galar region in Pokemon Sword and Shield is the second region to be based on locations in Europe, as it is largely inspired by the United Kingdom. While the core game is primarily based on England and Wales, the Crown Tundra DLC pulls on Scotland for inspiration, meanwhile the Isle of Man is what inspires the Isle of Armor expansion. Generation 8, like Gen 7 before it, also adds regional variants into the Pokemon franchise.
Pokemon Colosseum and Rangers
Pokemon’s side games also use regions based on locations in the real world. Starting with Generation 3’s Pokemon Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness, the Orre region is based on Phoenix, Arizona in the United States. While Orre is more of a wasteland than other areas in Pokemon, its primarily desert location falls in-line with the hot-dry climate of the southwestern United States. The starters for this region were pretty unique at the time, using the Eeveelutions Umbreon and Espeon.
The Pokemon Ranger games took a hint from Colosseum and also used different Pokemon than what players are used to for their starters. The Ranger games also used regions based in Japan like the first four generations of Pokemon games. The original Ranger game’s Fiore region pulls inspiration from the Okayama and Hyogo regions, as well as Shodo Island. Shadows of Almia focuses on the Oshima peninsula of Hokkaido, meanwhile Guardian Signs’ Oblivia looks a lot like the Oki Islands. The Ranger series also changed traditional gameplay, but continues to rank well on Pokemon spin-off tier lists.
New Pokemon Snap
The newest region players have visited comes from New Pokemon Snap. The photography-based gameplay that fans remember from the original is intact and fleshed out for the Lental region, which is great considering the abundant ecosystem available for documentation. The wildlife-rich region is based on the Galapagos Islands.
Lental might not be the newest region for long. Currently, Pokemon fans are theorizing a Generation 9 region hint has been placed in the new Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remakes. With their release in November, and Pokemon Legends: Arceus in February, it feels like any day could have the announcement of a new generation of Pokemon games.