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Video Game / Pokémon Trading Card Game (1998)
aka: Pokemon Trading Card Game

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The video game based on the hit card game based on the hit video game! Now with a special card!

Pokémon Trading Card Game is a video game for the Game Boy Color based on the Pokémon Trading Card Game. 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 similar to Pokémon Red and Blue, but with Pokémon trading cards instead of actual Pokémon. 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 Pokémon cards from players and have Dark Pokémon Cards to back them up. In the second game, you could choose to play as Mark or a new female character, Mint.


  • Affably Evil: The sequel's Team Great Rocket are probably the nicest incarnation of Team Rocket in the entire franchise. They're cordial to the player, always release their captives once beaten, give out booster packs like anybody else, let the player visit their island freely, and most of the members on their own island don't seem to have anything against you. Once their leader is defeated, the whole organization has a Heel–Face Turn, and everybody forgives them. But before all that, they steal everyone's cards, take hostages, and even brainwash people, so they are still the bad guys.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The sequel not only lets you skip some duelling and coin-flipping animations but also lets you skip the tutorial duel with Sam.
  • Art Evolution: Every card has an expanded palette in the sequel.
  • 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 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 their desired setup.
    • The Final Boss of the first game has all four of the Legendary cards — Dragonite, Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos. Naturally, each requires energy matching their type to use their attacks — Dragonite is Colorless and can use any type, but the birds need Water, Fire, and Electric Energy. However, 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 Pokémon and all cards attached to it to your hand, unless it would knock the Pokémon 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 Pokémon 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 Pokémon 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 force you to play particular cards. Tool assisted speedruns (that play through the entire game) only take about twice the time to go through the entire rest of the game as they do the tutorial.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Legendary Zapdos. Both its Pokémon Power and its lone attack have the same effect of targeting active Pokémon or Pokémon in the bench. Zapdos's Pokémon 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 Pokémon are outnumbered, or you have only Legendary Zapdos in play, it gets much more devastating.
    • By the same token, Legendary Articuno. Its Pokémon Power has a 50-50 chance of paralyzing the opponent's Active Pokémon (which only lasts for one turn anyways). Its attack, Ice Breath, deals 40 damage to one of the opponent's Active or Benched Pokémon, though similarly to Legendary Zapdos, the target is picked at random. At least you know that your own Pokémon won't suffer friendly fire.
  • Bag of Spilling: Team Great Rocket steals your cards at the start of the second game, forcing you to start a new collection from scratch.
  • Big "NO!": Ronald in the first game, after you defeat him for the Legendary cards.
  • 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.
    • Coins in the second game tend to be this. While a lot of them are obtained as milestones, some require other, more complex things, such as landing ten heads in a row at the casino (a 1/1048 chance), or winning 50 matches in a row after beating the game. These coins do absolutely nothing.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • The original Fossil Ditto card is unobtainable. 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" Pokémon Power. The Game Boy Color version got an Electrode with Sonicboom and Energy Spike instead.
    • Cards with the GB icon are missing from the real life card game, due to using RNG to determine their effect, or in some cases, which card they hit and would require a die roll or two to determine their effects.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • Every move in the games is planned out by the computer in advance, so reloading and trying a turn with a coin flip (and to a lesser extent save states and rewind in the versions that allow it) won't change anything. This can also mean the computer will deal out starting hands that make the match nearly Unwinnable, with little you can do about it. The coin flips are also often stacked in the computer's favor; getting 3-7 negative coin flips in a row isn't uncommon, which often stalls conveniently just long enough for the enemy to get fully set up or get the exact card they need to screw you over.
    • When you fight Ronald in the final battle of the first game, he has two copies each of the legendary Moltres and Dragonite cards. In theory, this is after beating the Grand Masters only once, but when you do it, you only get one copy of each legendary card. In order to get doubles, you need to beat the Grand Masters four more times, each time granting you a random legendary card. Did Ronald just pinch an extra few copies without the Grand Masters noticing?
    • The bosses in the second game all have special rules that skew to their advantage. Some (Electric Pokémon 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 Pokémon in play) is much more devastating when its 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 Pokémon, 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.
  • Degraded Boss: The four masked GR trainers in the sequel are bosses in the first half of the game, who give out Plot Coupons upon defeat. Once you reach their own island, they drop their disguises and are just regular Fortress trainers, while the Fortress leaders are the real bosses.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-Universe: In the 2nd game, a woman is confused on how anyone could like GR2 to the point of overlooking his thievery. Another girl seems to be in love with the hats that the people in GR Island wear, even being willing to join them because of the hats!
  • Easy Level Trick: In the first game, the Electric Grand Master has a deck of all Electric-types, meaning they're weak to Fighting (except his Zapdos, which resists it). Since fighting includes Ground-types which resist electricity, an all-Ground deck could take him out (slowly) with little to no danger (until Zapdos comes up, in which case you'd better have one that does at least 40 damage or have a Colorless/'splashable' Pokémon that has a different type).
  • 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?
  • Fake Longevity: Appears a number of times in the second game. Packs are harder to farm because Imakuni? only gives one instead of four without anyone else to compensate despite there being many more cards in the game, a Mew card is locked behind a 1/1024 chance of flipping ten heads in a row in the casino, and a rare coin requires a massive fifty wins in a row on a machine.
  • 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. The sequel adds a second explicitly female option.
  • 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.
  • Gathering Steam: You can only play one energy card per Pokémon per turn under normal circumstances, and although you can evolve your Pokémon without energy, their evolved forms usually require more than the unevolved form to attack, trading increased time to gather steam for greater power.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A minor one, but one that does prevent you from collecting every card in the first game legitimately. There are two rare cards that are exclusive to the game's Card Pop! feature: Phantom Mew and Phantom Venusaur. Unfortunately, due to the way the game determines which card you get, it never picks the latter, meaning there's no way to obtain Phantom Venusaur without a cheating device.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Most of the GR Fort leaders have Extra Rules that enhance their specialty type. These rules also apply to the player. (For example, Catherine's Extra Rule add 10 damage from all attacks by Electric-type Pokémon, including the player's.)
    • Ronald and Catherine both lampshade this trope.
    Ronald: Will you make your own deck of electric Pokémon and try to overpower hers?
    Catherine: Oh noooo! I've been defeated using my own rules!
    • Brutus' Extra Rule has Fighting cards ignore resistances, but packs a Scyther (resistant to Fighting) himself, allowing you to pull this on him.
    • Hiderō's/Bernard's Extra Rule subverts this trope, though. While his Extra Rule gets rid of the Water-type weakness Fire-type Pokémon have, there are no Water-type Pokémon in his deck! Ronald also notices this subversion.
  • Hyperactive Sprite: Everyone in the game walks in place in time to the music (sometimes).
  • Joke Item: Most of the Imakuni? cards. The one in the first game merely makes your Active Pokémon become Confused.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The leader of the Fighting Fort in the 2nd game uses the Imakuni? card when using Dark Primape, which has a Pokémon Power that adds 30 damage to all attacks Dark Primape does when Confused... even the self-inflicted 20 damage if Primape fails an attack.
  • 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 go your way? On truly unlucky hands, it's possible to win or lose on your first turn. While this, like with any TCG, can be reduced with proper deckbuilding, a brick is inevitable with even the best-built decks.
    • Finding Imakuni?, who randomly spawns in one of the clubs' lobbies. If you find him, you can battle him, and get his card or some booster packs as a reward.
    • Card Pop! is a particularly notable offender: by utilizing the GBC's infrared port, two games can connect and both will receive a random card. The catch is that you can only do this with the same game once per save file, which means that you either need to keep resetting the other game over and over again or have a small nation's worth of friends to get the cards you want. To top it all off, both games have two "Phantom Cards" that can only be obtained through Card Pop!; mercifully, the second game makes the first game's Phantom Cards obtainable at the Game Center, even if its own Phantoms are otherwise inaccessible. Also, since Card Pop! is reliant on the IR port, the feature just plain doesn't work if you're playing on anything other than a Game Boy Color, to the point where it's entirely disabled in the first game's Virtual Console rerelease (though it does work the same as any other multiplayer feature on Nintendo Switch Online), and attempting to use Card Pop! between the first and second game will just lead to a variety of Game-Breaking Bugs.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The legendary cards in the Game Boy TCG are apparently sentient and waiting for The Chosen One to use them.
  • Piñata Enemy: Imakuni? definitely qualifies if you beat him. When he doesn't give away his card, the reward for beating him is one of each of the four types of booster packs, which allows you to build up a decent card collection pretty quickly. It also helps that his deck can be easily beaten by Lightning and Psychic Pokémon.
  • 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 subverts this trope in the 2nd game; he becomes a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, but acts as The Mole and feeds you information on opponents you'll be going up against.
  • 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: Card games are taken to near-Yu-Gi-Oh!-level extremes.
  • Shock and Awe: Electric-type Pokémon, 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.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Due to the second game never receiving an official translation, it's unknown what the official romanization of the Big Bad's name is meant to be. It doesn't help that ビルリッチ (Biruritchi) has several possible options to choose from, including but not limited to "Bilritch", "Virrichi", "Bilulich", "Vilrich", or "Villicci". The fan translation uses the last one.
  • Stupid Evil: Vilrich in the sequel shows some real Artificial Stupidity with his rapid deck-burning, which can all too easily lead you to win in an anti-climactic deck-out.
  • Tomboy: Brittany, who prefers lounging around the Grass Club over taking care of the plants.
  • Town Girls: Among the Grass Club trainers, Brittany (butch), Heather (femme), and Kristin (neither), if you're to go by just their pics (Brittany sports a Tomboyish Baseball Cap, Heather looks like a Yamato Nadeshiko, and Kristin sports a Tomboyish Ponytail).
  • Unperson: The Virtual Console release was unable to accurately emulate IR emulation and thus simply pretends that neither the Phantom Cards nor two-player capability ever existed within the game.
  • Victory by Endurance: Murray, the Psychic Club Master, uses a stall deck built around using Alakazam and Kanghaskhan to shift damage away from the active Pokémon and onto the benched ones, while drawing cards repeatedly from the deck through "Fetch." You can easily outlast him, though, by using Psychic-resistant Colorless types and spamming Energy Removals. He will burn through his deck and you will win, even if he is kicking your ass conventionally.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Team Great Rocket has this to an almost disturbing degree, with NPCs of all kinds talking about how cool they are, wanting to join them, and spying on you for them.
  • Welcome to Corneria: As expected for a game of its time, but a few examples stand out:
    • An opponent named Matthew will challenge you to a 4-prize duel "like last time"—the first time you speak to him (granted, he could be talking about his last battle with someone else, but still).
    • 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