Playing Pokémon games is a great experience that many of us have experienced in our childhood. Meeting and working alongside you Pokémon, growing stronger together and overcoming adversity at the end of a long journey are things we end up growing very nostalgic for. Some grow attached to their Pokémon and want to take them on more adventures, similar to the characters in the anime series. If you're that kind of person, this guide is for you. It's possible to keep your Pokémon with you, no matter what generation they were caught in, but some transfers are more tricky than others.
Given that various remakes of past generations of Pokémon have been released, we'll be sorting this guide by console instead of by generation. Virtual Console games on the Nintendo 3DS will be sorted with the sixth and seventh generation of games, despite belonging to the first and second generations themselves.
Remember: With any Pokémon games from Generation 1 to Generation 5, there lies the possibility that your game may be counterfeit if you bought it secondhand. Counterfeit games are not guaranteed to function correctly, even if you can play the game, so your save data may be corrupted or lost. We recommend that you check to see if your Pokémon game is genuine before following this guide. Nintendo 3DS games cannot be counterfeited, so those will always be genuine.
Game Boy & Game Boy Color
The Game Boy and Game Boy Color are home to Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal, with Pokémon Green being released in Japan only. Because of the unique way in which stats are calculated, alongside the inability to connect the Game Boy (Color) with the Game Boy Advance, it is impossible to transfer Pokémon from physical copies of Generations 1 and 2 past the Game Boy Color, at least not by any official means. However, you may still transfer Pokémon between the physical copies of these two generations. Virtual Console versions of Generations 1 and 2 were later brought to the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, which made it possible to transfer Pokémon caught in those versions to modern consoles.
How to transfer between Generations 1 and 2
While there's no explicit transfer area to bring all of your Pokémon from Red, Blue, and Yellow to Gold, Silver and Crystal, players can still trade between both generations using the Time Capsule feature. The Time Capsule machine is located on the upper floor of the Pokémon Center in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, and must be unlocked by meeting Bill in Ecruteak City. Players must also have received the Pokédex from Professor Oak in order to trade from Pokémon Red, Blue, or Yellow.
Players can then "trade through time" as the Time Capsule presents the Generation 2 game as if it were a Generation 1 game to your copy of Red, Blue, or Yellow. Japanese games are not compatible with non-Japanese games, and will corrupt your save data if you attempt to trade between the two.
Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance systems require cables to trade, so here are the types of cables you'll need to trade between Generation 1 and Generation 2 games on various hardware. Remember to read reviews and take caution when purchasing from third parties.
|Handheld console||Cable type|
|Between two original Game Boy systems||Game Link Cable (DMG-04)|
|Between one original Game Boy and one Game Boy Color, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Advance, or Game Boy Advance SP||Universal Game Link Adapter (DMG-14) and EITHER a Game Boy Pocket Link Cable (MGB-008) OR a Game Boy Color Link Cable (CGB-003)|
|Between one original Game Boy and one Game Boy Color, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Advance, or Game Boy Advance SP||Universal Game Link Cable (MGB-010)|
|Between two Game Boy Color, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Advance, or Game Boy Advance SP systems||Game Boy Color Link Cable (CGB-003), Game Boy Pocket Link Cable (MGB-008) or a Universal Game Link Cable (MGB-010)|
Trade your Pokémon on the original Game Boy with this cable.
This cable is compatible with the Game Boy Color for Pokémon trading and multiplayer games.
For simplification reasons, we will refer to the console in which your Generation 2 game (Gold, Silver, Crystal) is inserted as "Console 1" and the console in which your Generation 1 game (Red, Blue, Yellow) as "Console 2". Now that you've got all the right equipment, follow these steps:
- In your Generation 2 game on Console 1, head to the Cable Club Time Capsule, located on the upper floor of any Pokémon Center, to the far right
- Select "Yes" to trade across time
- Select "Yes" to save your game
- Select "Yes" to overwrite your current save file
- In your Generation 1 game on Console 2, head to the Cable Club, located on the upper floor of any Pokémon Center, to the far right
- Select "Yes" to save the game
- Select "Trade Center" when asked where you want to go
- On both consoles, after each trainer is seated opposite the other, select which Pokémon you'd like to trade
- Select "Trade" once you've decided on a Pokémon
- Select "Trade" to confirm
Congratulations, your Generation 1 Pokémon are now in Generation 2!
Note: While Game Boy Advance systems are backwards compatible with both Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges, the original Game Boy cannot play Game Boy Color games. Therefore, Pokémon Crystal can only be played on a Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance console.
What about Virtual Console?
After their re-release on Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, the first and second generations of Pokémon games also had the ability to trade between them, even if only between multiple 3DS systems and only through local wireless. Players can trade the exact same way they did on original Game Boy and Game Boy Color systems, only without the need for cables. All players must have their own copy of Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, or Crystal on their own console within the Nintendo 3DS family of systems — you cannot trade between your own copy of a Generation 1 and 2 game on the same console. Just like with the original releases, Japanese and non-Japanese games are not compatible.
Using unofficial means to transfer Pokémon upwards
While Nintendo has made it clear that it is not possible to transfer Pokémon from Generation 1 and 2 cartridges to any other platform, some tech-savvy Pokéfans have figured out a way to dump their Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridge save file, convert it to a format compatible with the Nintendo 3DS, and inject it into a Generation I or II Pokémon game on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console. This requires a save dumper, and a Nintendo 3DS running custom firmware. While we'd like our readers to know that these transfers technically are possible through unofficial methods, iMore is not responsible for any console or game damage incurred through the practice.
Game Boy Advance
With the dawn of Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen came changes to Pokémon stats and moves that made them incompatible with the previous two generations of games. Though FireRed and LeafGreen are remakes of a region introduced in Generation 1, we'll class these games as Generation 3 to keep things simple.
How to transfer Pokémon from Generation 3 to Generation 4
The transfer process was made easier from Generation 3 onwards and did not require the use of two systems. All you need is one Nintendo DS or Nintendo DS Lite, a copy of a Generation 3 game (Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen), and a copy of a Generation 4 game (Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver). Remember that these transfers are one-way ONLY, and any Pokémon that you transfer to the Nintendo DS cannot be transferred back to the Game Boy Advance. Pokémon with HM moves cannot be traded unless you've brought them to the Move Deleter to have them unlearn that HM move. Finally, there need to be at least six Pokémon in your PC boxes in your GBA game before you can trade any of them.
Follow these steps to start your Pokémon's journey to modern consoles:
- Place the six Pokémon you wish to transfer to Generation 4 in the Pokémon storage box in your Generation 3 game
- Place both the Nintendo DS game in Slot 1 and the Game Boy Advance game in Slot 2 of your Nintendo DS or Nintendo DS Lite
- Start your Nintendo DS game
- Select "Migrate from (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen)" on the save-select screen
- Select "Yes" to the migration prompt
- Select "Yes" to confirm
- Choose exactly six Pokémon to migrate
- Select "Yes" to confirm
- Select "Yes" once you understand that this is a one-way transfer
- Start your Nintendo DS game
- Place a Pokémon that knows the move "Surf" in your party (recommended, not required)
- Head to the Pal Park, located on Route 221 in Sinnoh and Fuschia City in Kanto
- Talk to the park ranger to start the Catching Show
Tips for completing the Catching Show
You'll now have to catch the Pokémon you've migrated in the Catching Show. The six Park Balls you receive have a 100% catch rate, just like a Master Ball. Your Pokémon are now hiding in the tall grass or underwater in the five different Pal Park areas: Field, Forest, Mountain, Pond, and Ocean.
Some Pokémon are more likely to appear in the water based on their typing, which is why it's recommended that you take a Pokémon that knows Surf with you. If you forgot to do this, don't worry, as you may leave the Pal Park at any time, which places any caught Pokémon back in the wild. All of your Pokémon are here, though it may take some time to find them.
After the Catching Show ends, you're given the option to keep the caught Pokémon in Pal Park or places them in your PC boxes. However, the Pokémon do not become yours until you've placed them in your PC. The park ranger will also give the player a berry as a reward, depending on the score they received. This score is based on how quickly Pokémon are caught, how rare the Pokémon are, and how diverse the typings are across all six Pokémon.
Congratulations, your Generation 3 Pokémon are now in Generation 4!
Note: Several in-game requirements need to be met before you migrate GBA Pokémon to a Nintendo DS game. If you are using Pokémon Diamond or Pearl, you must have seen all 150 Pokémon in the Sinnoh Pokédex (except for Manaphy), and received the National Pokédex from Professor Rowan in Sandgem Town. If you are using Pokémon Platinum, you need to get the Sinnoh Pokédex (not the National one) from Professor Rowan in Sandgem Town and have two or more Pokémon in your party, so that you're not left without any Pokémon. If you are using Pokémon HeartGold or SoulSilver, you need to have received the National Pokédex by beating the Elite Four, entering the Hall of Fame, and going to the S. S. Aqua.
Trade your Pokémon and battle with friends using this link cable for Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Advance SP. Note that this cable is not required to transfer Pokémon to the Nintendo DS. It can be used to trade between Generation 1 and II games.
The Nintendo DS brought even more changes to Pokémon JRPG mechanics with Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver. Transfers from Generation 4 to Generation 5 are faciitated by the Poké Transfer Lab, which is located on Route 15 in Unova. Transfers can be done with any combination of two Nintendo DS, Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DSi XL, (new) Nintendo 3DS, (new) Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS or Nintendo 2DS XL systems.
How to transfer Pokémon from Generation 4 to Generation 5
For simplification reasons, we will refer to the console in which your Generation 5 game (Black, Black 2, White, White 2) is inserted as "Console 1" and the console in which your Generation 4 game (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver) as "Console 2".
- Place the six Pokémon you wish to transfer to Generation 5 in the Pokémon storage box in your Generation 4 game in Console 2
- In your Generation 5 game on Console 1, head to the Poké Transfer Lab and listen to Professor Park
- Select "Yes" to consent to using the Poké Transfer
- Select "Yes" to consent to the irreversible transfer
- Select "Yes" to start DS Wireless Communications
- Select "Yes" to save your game and start the Poké Transfer System, which prompts your Generation 5 game to search for a Generation 4 game
- On Console 2, select "Download Play" on the Home Menu
- If Console 2 is a 3DS, choose DS Download Play, NOT 3DS Download Play
- Tap the Generation 5 game icon that pops up on Console 2
- Select "Yes" on Console 2 to download the software
- Choose the six Pokémon you'd like to transfer and slide them to the frame on the right with the stylus
- Select "Yes" to transfer the six chosen Pokémon
- Play the catching minigame where you pull a Pokéball on the touch screen down, aim at the Pokémon on the top screen, and let go to send the Pokéball flying
- Select "Yes" on Console 2 to transfer the caught Pokémon
- If you don't have any more Pokémon to transfer, select "No" on Console 2 and turn off the power
Congratulations, your Generation 4 Pokémon are now in Generation 5!
Note: Eggs, Pokémon who know HM moves, and Spiky-eared Pichu cannot be transferred into Generation 5 games. If you're having trouble catching the Pokémon within the time limit, hit the pink cloud that shows up to make all the Pokémon fall asleep, making it easier to catch them. If you run out of time, any uncaptured Pokémon will return to the storage box in your Generation 4 game on Console 2, and you'll be able to try again an unlimited number of times.
The last handheld-exclusive Pokémon games have their home on the Nintendo 3DS, namely Pokémon X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon. The first handheld Pokémon storage and transfer systems, Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter, also made their debut, which were supposed to make transferring Pokémon from all generations from the third one upwards much easier for future games.
Unlike the Generation 4 to Generation 5 transfer, players only need one system from the Nintendo 3DS family of systems (Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS, Nintendo 2DS XL, "new" Nintendo 3DS, or "new" Nintendo 3DS XL).
Note: The Generation 5 games and Generation 1 and II Virtual Console games use Poké Transporter to transfer Pokémon to Generation 4 (X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire) and Generation VII (Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, Ultra Moon) via the 3DS storage service Pokémon Bank. Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter are free to download but require a $5 USD annual subscription fee to use. You won't be able to transfer your Generation I, II, or V Pokémon without an active subscription.
How to transfer Pokémon from Generation 5 to Pokémon Bank, Generation 6, and Generation 7
Once you've got an active subscription to Pokémon Bank, follow these steps:
- Open the main menu of the application and select "Download Poké Transporter"
- Follow the prompts to the Nintendo 3DS eShop and select "Download"
- Open Poké Transporter and press start
- Select which game you'd like to transfer from and press "Use this game"
- Select which PC Box you wish to transfer and then "Yes" to transfer them
- Return to the Home Menu and open Pokémon Bank
- Select which game you'd like to transfer to and press "Use this game"
- Move your cursor to the title of the box "Bank 1" at the top of the screen
- Press left on the Circle Pad or D-Pad once, which should take you to "Transport Box"
- Press "A" on the Pokémon you'd like to transfer and select "Move"
- You can decide whether you move it to a Pokémon Bank box or directly into your Generation 6 or Generation 7 game
- Press "X" to save and quit
Congratulations, your Generation 5 Pokémon are now in Generation 6 and 7!
How to transfer from Virtual Console games to Pokémon Bank
Virtual Console versions of Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal work the same way as Generation 5 games when it comes to transferring Pokémon to Pokémon Bank, Generation 6, and Generation 7 games. Just follow the above steps and you'll have your Pokémon transferred in no time. Your Pokémon will receive a neat little Game Boy stamp on their summary page as well!
Home to Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Nintendo Switch was the first home console that fans could experience a mainline Pokémon adventure on. GameFreak plans to release two games based in the Sinnoh region on this console, the Generation 5 remakes Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and Pokémon Legends Arceus.
How to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon Bank to Pokémon HOME
While we initially thought that The Pokémon Company would continue to use Pokémon Bank as their means of transferring between games, instead we got Pokémon HOME. HOME is compatible with all Generation 8 games, Pokémon GO, with compatibility extending to both upcoming Sinnoh region games shortly after their release. Pokémon HOME allows for up to 6,000 Pokémon to be stored, and also has a companion app on mobile devices for easy access and trading.
There are several payment tiers for Pokémon HOME :
- Free, albeit with a storage limit of 30 and restricted access to features
- One-month premium (30 days) — $2.99
- Three-month premium (90 days) — $4.99
- Twelve-month premium (365 days) — $15.99
However, an active premium subscription to Pokémon HOME is required for features such as the judge function and being able to move Pokémon from Pokémon Bank. To purchase a subscription, download Pokémon HOME from the Nintendo eShop, start Pokémon HOME, press any button once prompted, and navigate to the "Nintendo eShop" button in the bottom right corner of the screen in order to select which subscription you want. You will be redirected to the Nintendo eShop.
Remember that Pokémon sent to Pokémon HOME from Pokémon Bank can not be sent back to Pokémon Bank, so make sure that you no longer want to use those Pokémon in your 3DS games. This process requires you to move back and forth between your Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS, so take it slow and follow all the instructions. Now, let's begin!
- In Pokémon HOME, select the "MOVE" option from the main menu
- Select "Begin move"
- Select "Begin"
- In Pokémon Bank, select "Move Pokémon to Pokémon HOME" on the main menu
- Scroll down and select "Begin"
- Select which boxes you'd like to move to Pokémon HOME, or select all boxes by pressing "R"
- After you're finished, press "Y"
- Select "Yes" to move the selected Pokémon to Pokémon HOME
- In Pokémon HOME, select "Ready!"
- Select "Display" to generate a Moving Key that you'll use in Pokémon Bank
- In Pokémon Bank, enter the Moving Key that the Pokémon HOME application generated
- Select "OK"
- You can now turn off the Nintendo 3DS system
- In Pokémon HOME, you will be redirected to the title screen
- Press any button to continue
- Choose how you would like to move the Pokémon selected: All boxes as they are, one Pokémon at a time, or organize boxes manually
- Select "Yes" to save your progress
Moving Pokémon without a Nintendo 3DS
If you don't have access to your Nintendo 3DS anymore, select "No Nintendo 3DS" and the application will search for a Pokémon Bank account associated with the same Nintendo Network ID (NNID) that's connected to your Nintendo Account on your Nintendo Switch.
How to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon HOME to Generation 8
After moving your Pokémon to Pokémon HOME, you may want to play with your old pals in current-generation games. Here's how to take your Poképals on your latest adventure:
- Select "POKÉMON" on the main menu
- Choose the Generation 8 game you'd like to transfer your Pokémon to
- Select "Yes"
- Select the Pokémon you wish to move and bring them over to your Generation 8 game on the right
- Press "+" to quit
- Select "Save changes and exit"
Congratulations, your Generation 6 and 7 Pokémon are now in Generation 8!
Note: Not all Pokémon are compatible with Generation 8 games. Pokémon with a yellow triangular caution symbol (⚠️) know a move that is not compatible in your selected game. Pokémon with a red prohibition symbol (🚫) cannot be moved into your selected game.
How to transfer between Generation 8 and the Generation 4 remakes
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are set to release on November 19, 2021. While the transfer process may be similar to the original games, we can't say until the games are released. GameFreak has promised that both the Generation 4 remakes and Pokémon Legends Arceus will be compatible with Pokémon HOME. We'll be sure to update this space as soon as new information is available.
A long journey
Our Pokémon journeys are full of close calls and stories that we'll always remember. Keeping them close after many hours of training, breeding, and quality time is important to many trainers. It's great to see Game Freak acknowledge our affinity for the friends we've made along the way, and we hope to be able to battle and participate in contests with them for generations to come.
Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.