Obscura developer debuts fully-featured Pokédex iPhone app which lists all 1025 Pokémon — but says "it was just good timing" to launch after Delta

Ketchup app on iPhone showing Pikachu
(Image credit: Future)

If, like me, you grew up in the late '90s, you’ll remember the Pokémon series. Created by Game Freak, the pocket monster game originally launched on the Nintendo Game Boy handheld in 1996 — becoming a phenomenon once the decade came to an end.

Thanks to Delta, a multi-system emulator that launched on April 17 for iPhone, some users have been rediscovering the Pokémon series all over again. It’s coincidental then, that Ben McCarthy, developer of popular camera app Obscura, has released Ketchup, a well-designed app that lists every Pokémon, as well as their abilities, weak points, and even where to find them in each game.

Granted, there are already plenty of Pokémon apps you can download on the App Store that can help track the creatures you catch — but in my experience, they’ve all been terrible. Some can be buggy, others can just be plain broken. Yet Ketchup is the first app that has none of these issues, and instead hits on all the right notes.

The app is free to download on the App Store but also offers a one-time fee of $9.99 / £9.99 to unlock all 1,025 pocket monsters. After using Ketchup for several weeks, I’ve found it to be a brilliantly well-designed tool for finding certain Pokémon in the weeds when playing one of the games on my iPhone.

The perfect Pokédex app already

Ketchup showing list of Pokemon and Favorites

(Image credit: Future)

Every part of Ketchup is well-designed — so much so, that it reminds me of a feature from the Pokémon games. As you’re walking across the many towns in the games, you can use a handheld called a Pokédex, which records every creature you catch and can display some information about them. McCarthy’s app feels like the true successor — now, your iPhone is the modern Pokédex, but with plenty of useful features.

Upon opening the app, you’re brought to a list where you can select a creature, and you can look at everything you need to know about the Pokémon. You can ‘Favorite’ them to easily access them when needed, find out which elemental abilities are effective against another, or play a ‘Who’s that Pokémon?’ minigame, which is a callback to a segment from the animated TV show.

iMore covered McCarthy’s previous app Aether in February 2023. In this app, you could match up different types of Pokémon with one another to see how well their unique abilities would fare against another creature. Catching up with McCarthy, they revealed how Ketchup has been something they’ve long wanted to make. “A fully-fledged Pokédex app has been something I’ve wanted to build for years. Last year, one of the first problems I tried to tackle was how best to display type-matchups, and I realized that could exist as its own mini-app,” McCarthy reveals. 

“Aether being so focused made it less daunting to start, and then after that, building Ketchup felt more manageable. Work on Ketchup began in earnest towards the end of January, and I’m pleased with how quickly it’s come together since then. There’s a lot more I’d like to have included in the app, but given the possibility that App Review might never have let Ketchup through, I didn’t want to devote too much time to it, before getting it approved.”

Pokemon Heart Gold running on Delta for iPhone

(Image credit: Future)

In a strange sense of timing, the multi-system emulator Delta debuted on the App Store the week before Ketchup launched. As Delta can play past Nintendo consoles and handhelds, it meant that the first four generations of Pokémon games can now be played on the iPhone.

Yet McCarthy simply chalks this up to coincidence. “It would have been remarkable if I manipulated both Apple and the EU Commission to make this happen on my schedule, but no, it was just good timing,” McCarthy reveals. “But I’m overjoyed to see Delta available to everyone, and it’s been really sweet to see so many people online rediscovering their favorite games.”

The future of Ketchup

Ketchup showing Pokemon elements

(Image credit: Future)

I still have my original Nintendo 3DS handheld with Pokémon Heart Gold, which is a remake of Pokémon Gold on the Game Boy Color, released in 2000. I’ve been using Ketchup while playing the game, and it’s been a fantastic guide. It has helped me in lots of ways, from helping me find some of the monsters, to discovering the skill levels that some need to reach in order to ‘evolve’ into a more powerful type of pocket monster.

As I was playing the game and using Ketchup, I couldn’t help but think that an Apple Vision Pro version of the app would be a perfect next step, which McCarthy concurred with. “Ketchup on visionOS probably makes sense,” they reveal. “While I haven’t investigated that too deeply, I did at least get Ketchup to compile for visionOS, and it seems like it shouldn’t be too big a departure for the iPad version.”

Ketchup app on Mew and Whats that Pokemon game

(Image credit: Future)

For a 1.0 release, Ketchup is already a contender for one of the best iPhone apps of 2024. The app is so full to the brim of all the information you need for every Pokémon — it’s difficult to find any missing feature it desperately needs.

Right now though, McCarthy is looking ahead to WWDC 2024 in June – hoping to see some improvements for developers. “One of the biggest headaches with Ketchup (and Obscura for that matter) is that there’s no good SwiftUI equivalent to UIPageViewController, which lets you display a horizontally scrolling list of pages that are loaded as needed (think swiping between images in the Photos app),” they explain. “I had to jump in and out of UIKit to make that work, and it makes dealing with navigation in Ketchup a lot more complicated than it needs to be.”

With rumors suggesting that AI features are coming to iOS 18, the next update for compatible iPhones, McCarthy is curious as to what Apple will announce.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about what AI-related features we might see. I’m not hugely excited about AI being used for content generation, but if it can be used to handle tedious tasks that aren’t easily automated, I’ll be very happy.”

Regardless of what Apple will inevitably announce in June, I’ve come away very impressed with Ketchup. Considering the timing of its release so soon after Delta, these two apps have already become a perfect combo for discovering new Pokémon on my iPhone.

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.