Games and Hardware Guide

Below you will find a list of every game (including spin-offs) as well as all hardware that is relevant to generations 1 and 2 of Pokémon. There is a summary of what they are and their functionality.

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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
When talking about some cartridges and hardware, there is some advice for buying authentic items secondhand off of sites like eBay. Always do your own research and always check to see if the seller has good reviews - this page is only a starting point and CPG can't be held accountable for any purchases gone wrong.
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Spin-off, console, accessory, and JP-only pages coming soon!

MAIN SERIES GAMES

For the purpose of this website, "main series" games are all the games that involve the standard Pokémon formula of taking the role of a Pokémon trainer to go through a linear adventure, catching Pokémon and battling with them in turn-based combat to eventually become the Champion. This definition varies per person, and also seems to be changing with modern Pokémon game releases, but that is irrelevant here.

All of the games in this section have batteries inside of them to handle saving, and since the original cartridges are so old, many of them have died by now, wiping the saves with them. This is especially true for Gold, Silver, and Crystal. Generation 1 and 2 games without a working battery cannot save progress! If buying a cartridge, you'll need to look for one with a replaced battery, or replace the battery yourself.

Pokémon Red and Blue versions
Release Year: 1996 (JP), 1998 (NA)

Red and Blue were the first Pokémon games ever released, and as such are generation 1. They were the second most popular games in the Game Boy library, right under Tetris, and are the best-selling Pokémon games of all time to this day, selling over 30 million units.

They introduced the world of Pokémon for the first time, and formed the basis of the gameplay for the rest of the Pokémon franchise, including turn-based combat and monster collecting. They are set in the first Pokémon region, Kanto.

If you're looking to complete the Pokédex in generation 1, both games are necessary, even with the definitive Pokémon Yellow version, due to version exclusives. For the generation 2 Pokédex, neither is needed if you have Yellow.

Pokémon Yellow version
Release Year: 1998 (JP), 1999 (NA)

Yellow is the follow-up to Red and Blue versions, and was released during the downtime between generations 1 and 2, while everyone was waiting for Gold and Silver. It is more based on the anime than its predecessors.

While essentially a rehash of Red and Blue with a slightly mixed up storyline, there are a multitude of sprite changes, including new spritework for every single Pokémon's front sprite, and various changes are made to Gym Leader teams and trainer locations. The major new feature is getting a starter Pikachu instead of the original Kanto starters, similar to Ash in the anime, that follows you around and can interact with you.

If you're looking to complete the Pokédex in generation 1, Yellow is very useful because all of the Kanto starters can be obtained during the main storyline, but Red and Blue are still necessary for some exclusives. For the generation 2 Pokédex, only Yellow is needed to fill in missing Kanto Pokémon.

Pokémon Gold and Silver versions
Release Year: 1999 (JP), 2000 (NA)

Gold and Silver introduced the second generation of Pokémon games, bringing the Johto region to the franchise for the first time. They are the third best-selling Game Boy games of all time, selling over 20 million units. Despite supposedly being released for the Game Boy Color, Gold and Silver can be played on original Game Boy hardware, they just won't have the ability to use Mystery Gift, and will not be in color.

Gold and Silver are much more polished than their predecessors and have numerous new features added, many of which revolving around the new time-keeping mechanic. All Gold and Silver cartridges came with a battery on the inside that could keep track of the date and time, which was used to cause daily events in-game, as well as to spawn Pokémon only at certain times of day.

If you're looking to complete the Pokédex in generation 2, assuming you have Crystal, only one game of the two is necessary without Yellow, but without Yellow, you'll need either both of them or both Red and Blue. If you don't have Crystal, both games and Yellow or Red and Blue are necessary.

Pokémon Crystal version
Release Year: 2000 (JP), 2001 (NA)

Crystal is the definitive Johto generation 2 game and is the last main series game before generation 3. Unlike Gold and Silver, Crystal can only be played exclusively with Game Boy Color hardware, and will not run on an original Game Boy.

Crystal marks the first time in the Pokémon franchise that the player was given the ability to play as a girl. There are fairly significant changes to the story, this time revolving around Suicune instead of Ho-oh or Lugia. All of the front sprites for Pokémon were given animations for when they are sent out in battle or encountered in the wild. It was also the first time Game Freak experimented with online trading and battling, albeit only in Japan with the Mobile Adapter GB accessory.

If you're looking to complete the Pokédex in generation 2, the most optimal game combination for getting version exclusives with the least cartridges is Crystal, Yellow, and either Gold or Silver.

Last updated 12/21/21. Added way more extensive buying advice with images.