Video Game: Pokémon Trading Card Game

It's a video game based on a card game. Game-ception, much?

Pokémon Trading Card Game is a video game for the Game Boy Color based on the card game of the same name. It was developed by Hudson Soft, released in Japan as Pokémon Card GB in 1998 and in other countries in 2000. The game is reminiscent of the various Yu-Gi-Oh! video games, only with a simpler less "fate of the world" plot. Based on the actual TCG, it has cards from the early releases, as well as game-exclusive cards. It also came with a promo card that arguably might be a tad unfair in Tournament play. The game was released on the Game Boy Color and allows one to play against a friend, trade cards or use the "card pop" feature which gives rare normally inaccessible cards.

The plot is pretty much an Expy of Pokémon Red and Blue, but with Pokemon trading cards instead of actual Pokemon. You're an eager young rookie who gets a choice of "starter deck", you have a Jerkass Rival called Ronald who always seems one step ahead, and your goal is to defeat the eight "Club Masters" so that you can qualify to fight the four "Grand Masters" and become the Champion.

A sequel, also for the Game Boy Color, was released in Japan only in 2001; a Fan Translation of it now exists. That game's plot revolved around the evil Team Great Rocket, who go around stealing Pokemon cards from players and have Dark Pokemon Cards to back them up. In the second game, you could choose to play as Mark or a new female character, Mint.

If you were looking for the actual paper trading card game, see Pokémon.


  • A.I. Roulette: Sometimes the computer opponents are total idiots. Even the "masters" in the game can be stupid sometimes. And yet there are those moments where a random Mook in a lobby will kick your ass.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Final Boss of the first game has all four Legendary cards after you faced the Grand Masters who use each individually.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI, even at its highest level, doesn't understand proper strategy, or even basic concepts to avoid losing.
    • The Psychic Club Master has a stall deck with high-HP basic cards (including one that can negate all damage for a turn) and a method for shifting damage counters off damaged cards. The issue is that one of the cards, while suited for this deck has an "attack" that draws a card from your deck (Its high HP and decent 2nd attack still make it useful for the deck) and his deck has Discard and Draw cards, meaning he stalls you while he slowly kills himself. The Nidoking line, which is weak to Psychic, can easily waste most of his bench with ease.
    • Vilrich in the sequel also loves to burn through his deck like candy. By the third turn he'll possibly be halfway down his deck. It's not uncommon for most players to win just by deck-out. Ironically the card game would later evolve to encourage this sort of play so you can quickly draw out your best cards. Unlike Vilrich, however, a smart player knows when to slow down the deck-burning when he or she has obtained the intended setup.
    • The Final Boss of the first game has all four of the Legendary cards — Dragonite, Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos. Naturally for their attacks, Dragonite is Colorless while the birds use Water, Fire and Electric Energy. The boss's deck only contains Fire energy, leaving Articuno and Zapdos to do nothing but stall and be used with Scoop Up to recycle their abilities. You may now Face Palm.
    • If your active Pokémon could take out their active Pokémon on the next turn and they have at least one benched Pokémon, the AI will always opt to attach energy to the latter and allow you to take out the former unless attaching an energy to their active would allow them to take out your active. Even if you only have one more prize to draw and their active could potentially cause confusion/paralysis with its attack, extending the battle. On the other hand, if they can knock out your active Pokémon, they will treat their active as being completely safe, attaching energy to it even if it's not necessary to knock out your active and you have a Pokémon on your bench that can knock them out on your next turn.
    • Joseph of the Science Club plays a Flying deck. He will send out Pidgeot and continuously spam Hurricane, which returns your active Pokemon and all cards attached to it to the hand, unless it would knock the Pokemon out. Sure, it sounds annoying to have evolutions bounced and turns spent attaching energy wasted... until you realize you can just keep putting the bounced Pokemon back into play and chip away at Pidgeot's health while it fails to rack up damage. It does have another damaging attack with no drawback, but poor Joe is too dumb to realize he's fighting an impossible battle when he keeps healing your Pokemon in the same stroke as he damages them.
  • Auto-Pilot Tutorial: Your first match against one of Prof. Mason's assistants is played with stacked decks and instructions that forced you to play particular cards. Tool assisted speedruns have completed the entire rest of the game in the time it takes to finish the tutorial.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Legendary Zapdos. Both its Pokemon Power and its lone attack have the same effect of targeting active Pokemon or Pokemon in the bench. Zapdos's Pokemon Power deals 30 damage when it is put into play and Big Thunder deals 70 damage — except it can target your Pokémon as well and the target is chosen strictly at random. On the upside, when your Pokemon are outnumbered, or you have only Legendary Zapdos in play, it gets much more devastating.
    • By the same token, Legendary Articuno. Its Pokemon Power has a 50-50 chance of paralyzing the opponent's Active Pokemon (which only lasts for one turn anyways). Its attack, Ice Breath, deals 40 damage to one of the opponent's Active or Benched Pokemon, though similarly to Legendary Zapdos, the target is picked at random. At least you know that your own Pokemon won't suffer friendly fire.
  • Bag of Spilling: Team Great Rocket steals your cards at the start of the second game.
  • Bonus Dungeon: If you beat the boss in the second video game adaptation twice, you unlock the Sealed Fortress, where you can battle nine characters for rare booster packs.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Your ultimate reward for beating the Grand Masters, the four Legendary cards, isn't very good. The three birds each need three energy to attack, Articuno does 40 damage to a random target, Zapdos does 70 damage to a random target including potentially your own Pokémon, Moltres does 70 damage depending on a successful coin flip, and Dragonite needs two coin flips to do 30 damage for each heads, though at least it uses Colorless energy. Dragonite is also a case of Power Up Let Down — Dragonair has the same Slam attack as Dragonite with the same damage, and also has Hyper Beam for energy removal. The only advantages Dragonite really has, aside from its Pokémon Power, are 20 more HP and swapping Psychic resistance for Fighting, which is a circumstantial advantage. Overall, you're likely to get more usage out of Moltres and Dragonite for their Pokémon Powers (energy searching and healing) than actually using them to fight ... but you just beat the final bosses, so it's not like there's much left to do anyway unless you're aiming for 100% Completion.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Ditto cards are unobtainable, even if you scan one through the e-Reader. However, given how Ditto's original card worked, this may be due to technical limitations.
    • Similarly, the Electrode from the Base Set was excluded as well, as the programming couldn't process its "Buzzap" Pokemon Power. The Game Boy Color version got an Electrode with Sonicboom and Energy Spike instead.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The bosses in the second game all have special rules that skew to their advantage. Some (Electric Pokemon do bonus damage) can be used to your advantage as well, but how is removing the weakness of Fire types going to help against the Fire type user who has no Water types in the first place? The Psychic leader (energy cards that would be discarded are instead returned to your hand) is the only one that is really just a rule change instead of an advantage disguised as one.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu:
    • Legendary Zapdos' Big Thunder attack (which deals 70 damage to any single randomly-selected Pokemon in play) is much more devastating when it's owner's Bench is relatively empty and the opponent's is crowded.
    • Electrode's Chain Lightning attack is more effective when the opponent has more Benched Pokemon, at least of the same elemental type as their Active.
    • Inverted by Wigglytuff's Do The Wave attack; it deals more damage as its owner's Bench gets more crowded, from a base value of 10 all the way up to 60.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Due to card weaknesses working differently from the games, this actually works to the player's advantage (taking on the Rock and Fire masters with nothing but Grass and Water-types is just unfair). The Electric Grand Master can actually be taken out with (electric-resistant) Fighting cards as long as they do more than forty damage.
  • Expy: Aside from the obvious comparisons of the eight Club Masters and four Grand Masters, the leader of the Grand Masters, Rod, uses the Legendary Dragonite alongside Gyarados, Charizard, Lapras and Kangaskhan. Gee, where have you fought a Trainer like that before?
  • invokedFan Translation: One for the 2nd game exists and has the translation for actual duels completed, but is still in progress for the rest of the game.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The player character portrait is shown as a bust portrait with young, tween-like facial features of ambiguous gender, an ethnically unclear anime look, and hair tied up in a bandanna on the forehead though it's clearly black.
  • Feelies: The game comes with Promo Meowth #10. A pretty rare card, but since over one million copies of the game were sold world wide, it's technically an uncommon card.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The Grand Masters are the Fire user Courtney with Moltres, Electric user Steve with Zapdos, Water user Jack with Articuno, and Rod who uses Colorless and Water to approximate Dragons spearheaded by Dragonite. The Final Boss of the first game uses all their Legendary cards along with all three Eeveelutions.
  • Hyperactive Sprite: Everyone in the game walks in place in time to the music.
  • Joke Item: Most of the Imakuni? cards. The one in the first game merely makes your Active Pokemon become Confused.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Battles inevitably will end up being this sooner or later. When you draw your opening hand and find yourself with a single Basic Pokémon and draw none others while your lone defender gets its HP chipped away, well, just accept the inevitable. And even if your hand isn't so bad, what if none of the coin flips o your way? On truly unlucky hands, it's possible to win, or lose, on your first turn.
    • Finding Imakuni. He randomly spawns in one of the buildings. But if you find him, you can battle him, and get his card.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The legendary cards in the Game Boy TCG are apparently sentient and waiting for the Chosen One to use them.
  • Remember the New Guy: If Mint is chosen as the Player Character for the second, Japan only, game, she is treated as though she was the hero of the first game.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Ronald of the 2nd GBC game becomes a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. Although subverted when revealed that he is in fact The Mole.
  • Save Scumming: The game auto-saves every turn in battles, letting you see what your opponent will do next turn and prepare accordingly. Decks and hands stay the same, and interesting, so do coin flip results. Got tails on a card? Reset and don't use something that needs a coin flip to pass the tails on to your opponent when they try it.
  • Serious Business: Taken to near Yu-Gi-Oh!-level extremes.
  • Shock and Awe: Electric-type Pokemon, naturally. Probably the best examples in-game are the Zapdos cards; the original variant which can Thunderbolt for 100 damage, and its Legendary variant which uses Peal Of Thunder on entry into the Bench and Big Thunder for its main attack.
  • Smug Snake: Ronald. He's incredibly cocky, has a really obnoxious theme song, duels with a deck called "I'm Ronald!" and is incredibly easy to beat into the dirt.
  • Unfortunate Names: Your rival is called Ronald. Among Western audiences, it's about one of the worst names they could have chosen for its cultural connotations.
  • Welcome to Corneria: As expected for a game of its time, but a few examples stand out:
    • An opponent named Mitch will challenge you to a 4-prize duel "like last time"—the first time you speak to him.
    • There is a certain Event Flag which requires the player to go to Ishihara's house so that Nikki can be fought. You can talk to Ishihara before activating the resulting cutscene, and he says his ordinary dialogue. The ensuing cutscene has Nikki and Ishihara exchange some dialogue, and then when Nikki leaves the room you can talk to Ishihara again, and he will say his exact same dialogue as if that previous scene had never happened.

Alternative Title(s):

Pokemon Trading Card Game