Pokémon Trading Card Game (video game)

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Pokémon Trading Card Game
Pokémon Trading Card Game Coverart.png
North American box art
Developer(s)Hudson Soft, Creatures
Director(s)Kōji Arai
Producer(s)Tsunekazu Ishihara
Shinichi Nakamoto
Takehiro Izushi
Programmer(s)Masahiro Tobita
Satoshi Mikami
Masaki Tsumori
Composer(s)Ichirō Shimakura
Platform(s)Game Boy Color, 3DS Virtual Console
  • JP: December 18, 1998[2]
  • NA: April 10, 2000[1]
  • EU: December 15, 2000
3DS Virtual Console:
  • NA: November 13, 2014[5]
    • JP: December 24, 2014
Genre(s)Digital collectible card game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Pokémon Trading Card Game[a] is a video game adaptation of the original tabletop trading card game of the same name, which in turn was based on the Pokémon role-playing video game series. Developed by Hudson Soft and Creatures, and published by Nintendo, it was initially released in Japan on December 18, 1998, with an English version appearing in North America in April 10, 2000 and in Europe the following December. The title features digital versions of cards from the first three sets of the trading card game originally released in English by Wizards of the Coast between 1998 and 1999, as well as exclusive cards not available outside of the game.

A second Game Boy Color game, Pokémon Card GB2: Great Rocket-Dan Sanjō!,[b] was released in Japan on March 28, 2001. The sequel was not released in North America or Europe.


The player uses a Seaking card against the opponent's Machop card, and has to select an attack.

Pokémon Trading Card Game is a video game simulation of the original tabletop collectible card game with role-playing elements similar to the main Pokémon RPG-series. Players control a young boy and must travel around the game world interacting with non-player characters and challenging them to card battles using 60-card decks.[6] During gameplay, the player must defeat eight Club Masters, each with a different deck representing one of the game's elemental card types. Finally, the player faces four Grand Masters, and defeating them earns the player the right to inherit four powerful Legendary Cards. A total of 226 cards exist within the game, which include cards from the first three sets of the real-life game, as well as exclusive cards not available outside of the game.[7] The player is given the opportunity to choose one of three starter decks at the start of their journey, each containing Pokémon cards revolving around the three possible starting creatures from Pokémon Red and Blue. As players defeat opponents, they are rewarded with booster packs containing a random assortment of additional cards they may use in their deck, with up to four separate decks able to be saved at a time.

Up to two players may interact with each other using the Game Boy's infrared linking capability to battle or trade cards.[8] As players trade with one another, they are given access to a special feature called "Card Pop!", which allows them to obtain cards that would otherwise be inaccessible in the main game.[9] This feature is not accessible in the 3DS version.

Development and release[edit]

Pokémon Trading Card Game was co-developed by Hudson Soft and Creatures. Creatures' official website describes their work on the game as "planning and game design, card design".[10] Tsunekazu Ishihara, founder of Creatures and designer of the card game,[11] is credited as one of the game's producers. Curiously, Hudson is not credited anywhere on the game's package,[12][13] cartridge,[14] or title screen.[15] However, the ending credits list them as the game's developer.[16]

The game was released in Japan on December 18, 1998 under the title Pokémon Card GB (ポケモンカードGB, Pokemon Kādo Jī Bī) one month before the tabletop version debuted in English.[17] In September 1999, Nintendo of America announced that they would be releasing an English version in North America with the proposed title of simply Pokémon Card.[18] Though initially planned for release the following winter, the game, now known under its finalized title of Pokémon Trading Card Game, was pushed back to April 2000, which IGN attributed to the company wanting to focus their efforts on the upcoming Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64.[1] The following February, the game made an appearance at the 2000 Toy Fair in New York City as part of Nintendo's "Pokémon 2000" interactive line-up along with Pokémon Gold and Silver.[19] An exclusive tabletop version promotional card from Wizards of the Coast featuring Meowth was included with the game.

Although Pokémon Trading Card Game features most cards from the first three sets of the collectible card game, two real-life cards are absent from the Game Boy Color version: Electrode from the base set, and Ditto from the Fossil. The cards were excluded as it was difficult to translate their tabletop effects to the video game engine, but they are replaced by game-exclusive cards of the same Pokémon (the Electrode card was later made available in Japan via an online card shop). The game features cameos from President and CEO of The Pokémon Company Tsunekazu Ishihara as "Mr. Ishihara", and musician Tomoaki Imakuni under his stage name Imakuni?.[20]


Aggregate score
Review scores
Nintendo Power8.2/10[22]

Pokémon Trading Card Game sold 607,193 copies in Japan by the end of 1999, becoming the 20th most-bought console game of that year in the region.[23] It would go on to sell an additional 1.51 millions copies during its first year in North America,[24] and received mostly positive reception from critics, earning an 81.25% average score from aggregate review website GameRankings.[21] GameSpot referred to the game as "a faithful and amusing adaptation of the collectible card game" calling the gameplay "addictive", but found it to be overall less satisfying than the original Pokémon role-playing games, stating that its goal of 'collecting all 226 pieces of paper' just doesn't satisfy like 'catching 'em all' can and does."[7] Others, such as IGN called the game "a blast to play" and that it offered mostly the same experience as the tabletop version "without the clutter or cost", yet acknowledged that the video game adaption could not fully replicate the original given the finite number of cards available. Though the website found its main story to be "simple and basic", and gameplay to be largely luck-based, it ultimately declared that "whether you like or hate those darn Pokémon... if Nintendo keeps making Pokémon videogames of this quality, those creatures aren't going away anytime soon."[6] GamesRadar ranked it the 50th best game available on the Game Boy and/or Game Boy Color. The staff called it an "excellent addition to Pokemon's Game Boy catalog."[25]

In a 2009 retrospective of Pokémon spin-offs, IGN retained their high praise for the game, stating "It was really kind of ridiculous how awesome this game turned out to be...if there was one spin-off [we] could ask Nintendo to reintroduce, it'd be the TCG game."[26]


The game received a ban in Saudi Arabia because it supposedly promoted Zionism. According to Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Pokémon video game and cards have symbols that are "the star of David, which everyone knows is connected to international Zionism and is Israel's national emblem".[27]


Pokémon Card GB2: Great Rocket-Dan Sanjō!
Developer(s)Hudson Soft, Creatures
Publisher(s)The Pokémon Company
Platform(s)Game Boy Color
Genre(s)Card battle
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Pokémon Card GB2: Great Rocket-Dan Sanjō!,[c] released March 28, 2001, is the Japanese-exclusive sequel to the original Pokémon Trading Card Game, also for the Game Boy Color. Like its predecessor, the game was developed by Hudson Soft and Creatures, but unlike its predecessor, it is only published by The Pokémon Company, which also marks the first time a Pokémon game was ever published by The Pokémon Company. It was first announced in January 2001 by Japanese website WatchImpress.[29] It includes new enhancements, such as the ability to choose the gender of the player character, a training mode to help new players, a Deck Diagnosis to rate the effectiveness of a player's deck, and a new group of antagonists known as Team Great Rocket.[29] The game features all cards from the original game, along with new cards from the fourth set, Team Rocket, as well as cards originally exclusive to Japanese vending machines and the Pokémon Trading Card Game Instructional Video Intro Pack, bringing the total number of cards to 445.

Like the previous title, players must travel across the game world challenging non-player characters to simulated battles using rules adopted from the original tabletop version. All locations from the original are present, along with a new setting known as GR Island which contains its own Battle Masters for players to encounter. By defeating a total of 16 Battle Masters on the old and new islands, players may challenge the game's final boss, King Biruritchi. Though an English release in North America was deemed "likely" by website IGN in 2001, the game has not been made available outside Japan.[29] Pokémon Card GB2 earned a 29 out of 40 score from Japanese Weekly Famitsu magazine.[30]


  1. ^ Known in Japan as Pokémon Card GB (Japanese: ポケモンカードGB, Hepburn: Pokemon Kādo Jī Bī)
  2. ^ Japanese: ポケモンカードGB2 GR団参上! Hepburn: Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team Great Rocket!?
  3. ^ Japanese: ポケモンカードGB2 GR団参上! Hepburn: Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team Great Rocket!?


  1. ^ a b "Pokémon Card Delayed". IGN. 1999-12-02. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  2. ^ "ポケモンカードGB" (in Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  3. ^ Vuckovic, Daniel (July 7, 2014). "Nintendo Download Update (11/7) Pokemon Trading Card Game". Vooks. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  4. ^ NintenDaan (July 7, 2014). "This week's European downloads - July 10 (Pokemon TCG and more)". GoNintendo. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  5. ^ Campbell, Evan (October 20, 2014). "Pokemon Puzzle Challenge, Pokemon Trading Card Game Coming to 3DS Virtual Console". IGN. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Harris, Craig (2000-04-10). "Pokémon Trading Card Game - Game Boy Color Review". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  7. ^ a b c Bartholow, Peter (2000-04-10). "Pokemon Trading Card Game Review for Game Boy Color". GameSpot. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  8. ^ ギフトセンター (in Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  9. ^ 「カードポン!」でカードが増える!友達が増える!! (in Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  10. ^ Creatures. "Company >> History >> 1998". creatures.co.jp. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25.
  11. ^ #Pokemon20: The Pokémon Company's Tsunekazu Ishihara (YouTube video). The Official Pokémon YouTube Channel. 2016-02-02.
  12. ^ "Pokémon Trading Card Game front cover". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18.
  13. ^ "Pokémon Trading Card Game back cover". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18.
  14. ^ "Pokémon Trading Card Game cartridge". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18.
  15. ^ "Pokémon Trading Card Game title screen". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18.
  16. ^ うんこちゃん『ポケモンカードGB』Part2【2013/11/09】 (YouTube video). うんこちゃん昔の録画保管庫. 2017-12-15.
  17. ^ Johnston, Chris (November 19, 1998). "Nintendo Trades Pokemon Cards". GameSpot. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  18. ^ "Pokémon Card Game Coming to the US". IGN. 1999-09-10. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  19. ^ "Pokemon 2000 at the Toy Fair". IGN. 2000-02-09. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  20. ^ おどれ! 1997~1998 [イベント・テレビなど] (in Japanese). Imakuni? Official Website. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  21. ^ a b "Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy Color". GameRankings. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  22. ^ "Pokemon Trading Card Game Review". Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America (130). March 2000.
  23. ^ "1999 Top 100 Best Selling Japanese Console Games". The Magic Box. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  24. ^ "US Platinum Game Chart". The Magic Box. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  25. ^ "Best Game Boy games of all time". GamesRadar. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  26. ^ DeVries, Jack (2009-11-19). "Pokemon Report: Cheers & Tears Edition". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  27. ^ "Saudi Arabia bans Pokemon". British Broadcasting Corporation for the World. March 26, 2001. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  28. ^ Creatures. "Company >> History >> 2001". creatures.co.jp. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25.
  29. ^ a b c "A New Pokémon Game In The Cards". IGN. 2001-01-23. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  30. ^ "ポケモンカードGB2 -GR団参上!- [ゲームボーイ]". Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2014.

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