In-Depth Stories

Pokémon Bank Update Breakdown

We go through what will be required for Pokémon Bank to move Pokémon in Red, Blue and Yellow to Pokémon Sun and Moon.

We reported recently from the Pokémon Direct that Pokémon Bank will receive an update allowing Pokémon from Red, Blue and Yellow (RBY) to be transferred to Pokémon Sun and Moon, the newest games thought to be the first of the next generation games (generation seven). This was a remarkable announcement; for the first time Pokémon caught in the original games will be able to used in current games!

However, this piece of information was unsurprisingly overshadowed by the confirmation of Pokémon Sun and Moon existing. Here we’ll go through the details in full and discuss what will be required by The Pokémon Company to implement such a feature.

How Pokémon Bank Works

Pokémon Bank is both an online storage system for your Pokémon and a Pokémon transfer tool to use between different Pokémon games. The first aspect, which is useful for people who run out of box space within their games (e.g. from breeding Pokémon or trying to catch them all), isn’t new sans the online aspect. Pokémon Box for the Nintendo Gamecube allowed players to store Pokémon from Ruby and Sapphire, while Pokémon Ranch for the Nintendo Wii did likewise for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, as well as Platinum in Japan through an update. Pokémon Bank currently supports the fifth and sixth generation games, albeit Pokémon within Bank cannot be put back onto a fifth generation game.

All the transferring.
All the transferring.

Pokémon Bank is the first application not within the main games for transferring Pokémon between games across different generations. The first and second generation games could do this via trading; players in the Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal games just had to go to a different trade desk in-game and ensure their Pokémon traded to the first generation games didn’t have second generation data (e.g. moves introduced in those games). Crucially, this was the only case where you could trade Pokémon to an older generation game. Sadly you were unable to trade between the second and third generation games, but Pokémon within Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen can be transferred all the way up to Pokémon X and Y, and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire through in-game events such as Pal Park.

Pokémon Bank’s strength lies in the ability to transfer Pokémon across generations on the one console – there’s no need to borrow or steal your friend’s 3DS – and the ability to transfer entire boxes of Pokémon at a time. Granted, a small fee must be paid each year to maintain the service, as the Pokémon are stored on online servers, but Pokémon Box and Ranch were not free pieces of software either, and Bank will continue to be supported for future generations. You also get neat little bonuses for storing Pokémon in Bank with your choice of PokéMiles or Battle Points, and event Pokémon are occasionally given out to users as well. This year’s Poké Bank event Pokémon are the Hoenn “Regi” Pokémon (Regice, Regirock and Registeel), for example, complete with Hidden Abilities.

Why yes, yes I do.
Why yes, yes I do.

Bank with the Sun and the Moon

The news that Pokémon Bank will work with the newest games to come out at the end of the year in Pokémon Sun and Moon is hence no surprise. As stated on the official Pokémon website:

Major updates are planned for Pokémon Bank to work with Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. […] Pokémon from Pokémon Omega Ruby, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Pokémon X, and Pokémon Y can also be brought into Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon…

This comes as good news – Pokémon we have in our sixth generation games will be able to be transferred onto the seventh generation games! However, it wasn’t the only thing these updates will bring.

From Past to Present

The website goes on to explain the following:

You will be able to use your existing Pokémon Bank account to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow to Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. Due to certain limitations, it is recommended that you install Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow on the same Nintendo 3DS system as Pokémon Bank.

Note that Pokémon cannot be moved directly from Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow to Pokémon Omega Ruby, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Pokémon X, or Pokémon Y via Pokémon Bank.

This is pretty cool, but also impressive when you consider what needs to be done. It goes back to the gap between the second and third generation. Why couldn’t you trade Pokémon from Gold, Silver and Crystal onwards?

The answer is the change in game mechanics, particularly with how the Pokémon stats – Individual Values (IVs) – are made up. In the first two generation games, IVs ranged from 0 to 15 [including 0], where say an IV of 15 for Attack meant a higher Attack stat than a Pokémon with a lower Attack IV. Generation 3 and onwards however allowed IVs to take the range of 0 to 31, and a different formula was also used to calculate the stats. This overhaul of the Pokémon data structure, combined with additions like Natures and a change to how the move Hidden Power worked (a move whose power and typing depended on the Pokémon’s IVs) were other complications. Add in the different trade cables for the Game Boy/Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance systems, and you can see why it was dropped despite the chagrin of many first and second generation players.

Back to the future.
Back to the future.

That said, it wasn’t straightforward with the generation one and two games either. Red, Blue and Yellow did not have a Special Defense stat, so Pokémon transferred upward to second generation games had the IV copied into both Special statistics. Generation two games also introduced gender for most Pokémon and a shiny variant of every Pokémon (then dependent on the Pokémon’s IVs, unlike any other generation), and they had to ensure you couldn’t trade Pokémon with generation two items into Pokémon RBY.

Yet now we will finally be able to overcome the barriers the second and third generation games faced – and more – with this update. Pokémon stats will have to be recalculated, and the Pokémon given a gender, Nature, characteristic and even possibly be made shiny. It will be curious to see how it will be carried out. Will, for instance, the sole Special stat for RBY Pokémon used for the recalculation for both Special stats when transferred?

There’s also the case of movesets to consider for Bank to filter through. Pokémon move learnsets in RBY can be best described as weird and inconsistent. Nigh everything learns Metronome, Water Gun is a TM and the Machop line learns Fissure. The last case would be interesting if allowed to pass through given Machamp gets the ability of No Guard, which brings the accuracy of moves to 100%. Imagine a 1HKO move that won’t miss if the opponent isn’t Flying type or doesn’t have Levitate! There would have to be a check on legit Pokémon as well – for example, you can via glitches get a Kangaskhan with Fly.

Totally legit. Image source: Bulbapedia.
Totally legit. Image source: Bulbapedia.

All in all, there’s a lot to consider, and little wonder that there will be a separate update made for Pokémon Bank to be able to perform the transfer. It’s certainly something that will be appreciated by many Pokémon players! What are your thoughts on the transfer news with Pokémon Bank? Let us know in the comments below!