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Unwinnable By Mistake / Pokémon

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General

  • Versions of Pokémon (from Gen.3 and beyond) will not allow you to release or trade a Pokémon that has been taught a move from a Hidden Machine. This is to prevent players from doing this to themselves, since HMs carry moves that in general are required to finish the game. The only way to trade or release a Pokémon that knows an HM move is to teach that move to another Pokémon in the party. In addition, HMs cannot be tossed or sold for this very reason (TMs prior to Gen. V could be tossed or sold).
    • This can create a side effect where, if a player receives a Pokémon that knows an HM move before they received that HM, they will become unable to trade or release that Pokémon until they find that particular HM and teach it to another.
    • This issue is non-existent in Pokémon Sun and Moon, where Cut isn't even needed, and the Ride Pager makes up for any other required HM.

Generation I

  • In the Japanese Pokémon Red and Green, if you evolve your starting Pokémon before you get to the second town and back (raising it from Level 5 to 16 by Level Grinding against Pokémon about levels 2 through 4), the game will assume you already have the Pokédex and never give it to you. This means you can't get Poké Balls or purchase items in general, and since getting the Dex is also the flag that tells the Old Man in Viridian City to move, you're also unable to progress past the second town either. This was corrected in Japanese Pokémon Blue, as well as all international releases. This borders on Unwinnable by Insanity because while you can do it by accident, those not doing this for the explicit purpose of glitching the game should probably get a psych evaluation for choosing anywhere that's not the Viridian Forest as your grinding spot for Brock.
    • Note that if you try to trade your starter to another game to give it Cut to get around that man, the badge necessary for overworld use of the movie is further up in your adventure.
  • Gen I has the famous Glitch City, which — if the player follows a particular sequence of actions involving the Safari Zone — will put you in a "town" made of a random jumble of tiles pulled from the town you last visited. As Glitch Cities are not part of the game's map, they have no real exits (in some you can't even move off the tile you start in), thus the only way out is to Fly to another city or Teleport/Dig yourself back to the last Pokémon Center you visited. If you save in one without a Pokémon who knows one of those moves, you are in trouble.
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    • Another way to get stuck in a Glitch City in Yellow Version is to talk to Jigglypuff in Pewter City's Pokémon Center with Pikachu following you, which makes it stand still. Then, walk for a while on the right side of the room where Pikachu is not on screen. Eventually, you'll suddenly be unable to move.
  • Also in Gen I, the glitch Pokémon other than Missingno. and 'M. You usually have to go out of your way to encounter them, especially in Yellow. But the harder you have to look, the more damage they do. Missingno. and M rarely do anything worse than mess with your Hall of Fame; other glitched Pokémon and trainers can screw up your party, destroy your savegame, or even render the entire cartridge unusable. Demons in all their glitchy glory here.
  • You have to buy a drink to get past the guards on all sides of Saffron City. If you defeat all the trainers up to that point and then spend or blackout to lose all your money, there is no way to enter Saffron City. The only possible loophole is to trade with another game that has a Pokemon with the move Payday (or you can find the Pay Day TM in Route 12, but you need Surf to do so). This is corrected in FireRed and LeafGreen by having the guards respond to the key item Tea, instead of a regular item you have to buy. However, you could already get more money by challenging trainers to rematches—the change was more to prevent Sequence Breaking by trading an item into your game, as you can't have Pokemon hold key items.
  • A similar case can happen with the Safari Zone. It contains the Surf HM and an item that you can trade to the Warden for the Strength HM. Both of these are required to beat the game, but it costs money to enter the Safari Zone in the first place. If the player has somehow run out of money before then, they can't get Surf or Strength, and therefore can't finish the game.
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    • Yellow has a slight workaround in that the gatekeepers will let you in for free if you're persistent enough, albeit with fewer Safari Balls. However, it's still possible to get stuck there in Red and Blue.
  • A more minor case, most infamously seen in Twitch Plays Pokémon Red, occurs inside Cinnabar Island's Pokémon Mansion. One NPC trainer can be battled while they are in a nearby one-tile-wide nook. When the battle ends, the NPC will remain in place in front of the narrow space, blocking the player's only exit. Provided the player doesn't have an Escape Rope, Dig, or Teleport on them, the only ways to escape the Mansion when this occurs are to reset or battle wild Pokémon until losing and being returned to a Pokémon Center.
  • A less minor case can be found on Route 25. Battling a certain trainer from three blocks away will move him far enough that you can walk into a small enclosure behind him. Once you save and reset, the defeated trainer moves back to his original position, and stays there permanently. If you walk into that enclosure—perhaps to grab the TM in there—and then save and quit, you're trapped. (Whether this falls under Unwinnable by Insanity depends on whether you realized the trainer would end up blocking your only exit.) The only way to escape your new 5x2 home is to use Cut or Fly (or, in a pinch, Teleport). You normally reach this route before getting either of those HMs, so if you decide to save in that spot for whatever reason, you'll probably have to start a new game.
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Generation III

  • More of a metagame example, but if both you and your opponent send out Wobbuffet with Leftovers, the match is made unwinnable since the held item Leftovers recovers more health than what the move Struggle will hit (and recoil) for considering Wobbuffet's abysmal attack stat, and the ability Shadow Tag prevents either player from switching out. Generation IV modified both the movenote  and abilitynote  to make this situation impossible.

Generation IV

  • Early Japanese copies of Diamond and Pearl have two for the price of one at the Pokémon League. Both were fixed in later Japanese releases and all international versions.
    • The first one is the infamous "Surf through Aaron's door" glitch used to access Newmoon Island and Flower Paradise. If you saved in the black abyss while the game thinks you're somewhere where you can't use Fly or Teleport (or just don't have either), you're stuck. Keep in mind that getting Darkrai and Shaymin with this glitch requires saving the game.
    • The second is one you're more likely to come across completely by accident. All Pokémon Centers before Gen VI have a second floor where local wireless activities are conducted, the Sinnoh Pokémon League being no exception. If you go to this second floor at the Pokémon League, the escalator to bring you back to the ground floor doesn't work, leaving you trapped there unless you load your previous save. And given what the room is for, your last save was probably there. Players who managed to get stuck here could send their games in to Nintendo to get hacked out of the room, or use Action Replay codes to do so themselves.
  • An oversight in the early Japanese copies of Diamond and Pearl makes it possible for the player to go to the Underground on a bridge tile in Sunyshore City. When entering the Underground, the player is required to save the game. The problem with this is, when going into the Underground on that particular bridge tile, then going up into the normal world again, the player character will land UNDERNEATH the bridge tile and be able to walk on out-of-bounds sea tiles (and, among other funny things, can actually stand IN the Munchlax-shaped rock). Because of having saved, you will be stuck if you didn't bring a Pokémon knowing Fly or Teleport with you.
  • A less disastrous example comes from the Hearthome City rival battle. In Diamond and Pearl, when you return to the Southern path of town, leading to the only exits, you are ambushed by your rival. If your Pokemon are particularly weak, this fight can be genuinely unwinnable, because there's no way of gaining experience in Hearthome City. This can be avoided if you can trade (also, it's unlikely that you would make it to that point in the game having only Pokemon weak enough to trigger this issue). Platinum fixed this by moving the rival battle to the guardhouse between Hearthome and the next route, meaning you can return to the previous route to grind if so desired.

Generation V

  • In Pokémon Black and White, a minor but annoying instance of this can occur. Due to a weird glitch with EVs, occasionally a Pokémon will survive an attack with 1 HP but still faint. All attempts to proceed with the battle will fail, and if this occurs in a trainer battle, the only way to get out is to restart the game. Luckily, if this happens in the Battle Subway or against a live person, you can still end the battle through forfeit.
    • In that same game there was also a Battle Video of someone fighting an NPC; the NPC fisherman's Walrein fainted, and after getting his next Pokémon knocked out, he sent out Walrein again; its HP bar didn't appear, and the game acted as if the trainer's Pokémon was attacking nothing.
  • In the Japanese version of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 it is possible to exit Victory Road during the Zoroark event, making it impossible to access a certain Bonus Boss. This was fixed in the international releases.

Generation VI

  • In the initial release of X and Y, if you save outside on the main streets of Lumiose City, there is a chance that, when you load the game back up, Lumiose City will outright fail to load: your character will be frozen, the music will not be playing, and the city textures will not load. This renders the game unplayable, and thus would have to start the whole game over. It does not help that Lumiose City is easily the most confusing and disorienting city in the series, so many players may save there to take a break and/or get their bearings. Luckily, players have found ways to be able to resume the game if affected, and thankfully Nintendo has since released a patch to fix this glitch.
  • In Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it's possible to render your Secret Base permanently inaccessible via Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence by exiting it with an Escape Rope, forcing you to create a new base. True to form, Twitch achieved this one in Twitch Plays Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.

Generation VIII

  • The climax of Sword and Shield has the player battle and capture Eternatus after defeating its Eternamax form. You have no choice but to capture it, as the option to refuse is greyed out. However, if a player has managed to capture enough Pokémon to fill up all their PC Boxes by this point, the option to capture it is also greyed out, softlocking the player and forcing a reset.note 

I wonder where my partner went.
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