Video games are filled to the brim with magical worlds for players to explore, but there are perhaps none more iconic than the world of Pokemon. Although the world of Pokemon is certainly a fantastical place full of adventure and incredible creatures, it actually is based off of real world locations. Given the locations that have already been used, what countries or areas in the real world still remain to be the basis of the next Pokemon game?
For those that don't know, Pokemon games span over the course of eight generations, or sets of games. Each generation introduces a new region, with new Pokemon, types, mechanics, and more. All of these main entries in the Pokemon series (and even some spin-offs and side games) feature unique regions which are similar to real world locations both geographically and culturally. Throughout the course of eight generations of Pokemon games, many of the world's most iconic countries, cities, and locales have already been used for inspiration, so where will generation nine's next big Pokemon adventure take place?
Generation 1 (Red and Blue)
The first generation of Pokemon, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, are the games that started it all. Players find themselves in the Kanto region, taking their first steps towards becoming a Pokemon Master. Fans won't need to apply much critical thinking to figure out what real world area this is based on, as the Kanto region is an actual section of Japan. Even specific cities within the game can be related to real world cities in the Kanto region of Japan. For example, Pallet Town shares many features with creator of Pokemon and current CEO of Game Freak Satoshi Tajiri's hometown, Machida City.
Generation 2 (Gold and Silver)
Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver take place in the Johto region, and are especially notable because they allow players to explore both the Johto region and the Kanto region. Mount Silver separates these two regions in game, representing Japan's tallest mountain, Mount Fuji. Although it draws inspiration from several regions of Japan, Johto is mainly based off the Kansai region. Notably, the Kansai region is to the west of the Kanto region, just like Johto is to the west of Pokemon's Kanto region.
Generation 3 (Ruby and Sapphire)
Pokemon's third pair of games, Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire, brings the player to an island off the coast of Johto, the Hoenn region. The Hoenn region is based off of Kyūshū and its many surrounding islands. Once again, connections can be drawn between cities in game and their corresponding cities in the real world. For example, Slateport City, which features a large shipyard and even a cruise line run by Captain Stern which the player utilizes, relates to Nagasaki City in Japan, where ship building is the main industry.
Generation 4 (Diamond and Pearl)
Generation 4 brings players to the Sinnoh region, which is geographically very similar to the Hokkaido region of Japan, its northernmost islands. Generation 4 begins the trend of having more prevalent cultural references as well. In Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl, the legendary Pokemon Dialga and Palkia relate to time and space respectively, but the third main legendary Pokemon, Giratina, is the master of the distortion world. The distortion world can be entered at Send-off Spring, a location which geographically matches Japan's Lake Mashu, a mysterious fog covered crater lake which is the center of many Japanese folk stories.
Generation 5 (Black and White)
Pokemon Black and Pokemon White marks an important departure from every other Pokemon game preceding it, particularly a departure from Japan. The Unova region is inspired by New York City, and is the first region not based off an area of Japan. The world map is strikingly similar to that of New York City, and along with many iconic locations (Skyarrow Bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge, the Musical Theatre is Broadway, and the Unity Tower represents the headquarters of the United Nations) features a distinctly American culture.
Generation 6 (X and Y)
Emboldened by the success of Pokemon Black and Pokemon White, Game Freak sought to take Pokemon to yet newer destinations. Pokemon X and Pokemon Y feature the Kalos region, and any who stepped foot in Lumiose City or visited the Prism Tower should know that this region is based off of France, with the Prism Tower representing the Eiffel Tower. Some even speculate that the Kalos Pokemon League is actually Notre Dame.
Generation 7 (Sun and Moon)
While some Pokemon games are somewhat more subtle about their location, Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon is a deep dive into Hawaiian culture. The Alola region is a series of volcanic islands almost identical to those of Hawaii, with direct correlations between Melemele island and the real world O'ahu, Akala island and Hawaii's Maui, Alola's Poni Island and Kaua'i, and Ula'ula Island representing the Hawaii Island itself. The atmosphere and other features like the dances from Z moves are distinctly Hawaiian.
Generation 8 (Sword and Shield)
Pokemon's latest installment, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield takes place in the Galar region, and mirrors the United Kingdom. Just looking at the map it is easy to see certain major cities recreated. Galar region's northernmost City even has a clock tower and ferris wheel, showing that it is a representation of London.
Generation 9 (???)
Given that Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield have just recently released, it will be some time before the ninth generation of Pokemon games release, but it is still interesting to speculate at what real world regions the next game might occupy. For the sake of diversity, it is likely safe to assume that Pokemon trainers will not be returning to Japan, America, France, or the United Kingdom. There are still several European countries, such as Spain, Italy, and Germany which would make great candidates, and other continents like South America and Australia have yet to be touched. Italy would make for an interesting choice, perhaps Game Freak could deliver a colosseum-esque Pokemon league or battle tower like experience. Germany's romantic landscapes and frequent castles would also make for a unique Pokemon adventure, and an area like Brazil or Australia provide opportunity for exotic Pokemon and cultures to make their way into the franchise.
However, another popular idea advance have wanted for quite some time is for the next generation of Pokemon games to feature all the current regions in one game, massive Pokemon spectacle in which players can travel the entirety of the Pokemon world and collect the over 1,000 Pokemon the series has to offer. For now, players should simply enjoy Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, as only time will tell what direction Pokemon's 9th generation will take.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield is out now exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.