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Pokémon regions – from Alola to Unova


We’ve had plenty of Pokémon adventures over the years, forging unforgettable memories in countless different places as we leap between the generations and the regions with each new Pokémon series. Our fledgling steps in Kanto with the original Pokémon Red and Blue are iconic, when we return to Kanto again in FireRed and LeafGreen, and who could forget our venture back to the region in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee!

All joking aside, there are plenty of great Pokémon regions to explore and discuss, and we’re even about to discover a new one with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Paldea region, a location with a Spanish influence. Furthermore, we’ve also set foot in Sinnoh once more with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as being thrust back further in time to the Hisui region, the original landscape that eventually forms Sinnoh. The Pokémon world is a huge one, and we’re not done exploring it yet.

If you love Pokémon as much as people in Paldea love sangria, be sure to check out our great guides on the series, covering topics like the best starter Pokémon, monkey Pokémon, fish Pokémon, dog Pokémon, cat Pokémon, and get ahead of the game with our Pokémon Scarlet and Violet mystery gift codes list.

Let’s set off on an adventure with our guide to the many Pokémon regions.

Pokémon regions

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Hoenn

Kanto

The setting for our very first Pokémon adventure (as well as a few remakes) is Kanto, an iconic location, to say the least. While I might see Kanto more than I see my mum, there’s still a lot of charm to the region and an endearing amount of great design, including Lavender Town, the S.S. Anne, and the famous Cinnabar Island. Most of the towns in Kanto get their names from colours, which is why players start out in Pallet Town.

Kanto is where players meet Professor Oak, and if you went on to play Pokémon Gold, Silver, or Crystal, thanks to the incredible programming work of the late Satoru Iwata, players can explore the original Kanto as a post-game bonus after they’re done with Johto.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Johto

Johto

Pokémon Johto! It’s true, we do all live in a Pokémon world, and we especially did in the late 90s when Poké-fever was at its peak. After the smash success of Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow, fans couldn’t wait for whatever would come next. Well, in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and eventually Crystal, young players got to visit the region and Pokémon of Johto, as well as Professor Elm.

All the work done to make Kanto iconic is kicked up a notch, with several unforgettable areas like the Unown ruins, the Slowpoke well, and the Lake of Rage, where many meet their first shiny Pokémon in the form of the awesome red Gyrados. The trainers and Pokémon are just as memorable, as many full-grown adults are still walking around with PTSD from a cow Pokémon called Miltank.  We even got to revisit the region in the best Pokémon games, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, so Johto holds a special place in my heart.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Kanto

Hoenn

Hoenn, the region ushered in with Pokémon’s third generation, and the first entry on the GameBoy Advance, Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and eventually Emerald is a significant leap from previous generations in terms of graphics and content. This makes the sunny and beach-filled region of Hoenn feel alive, and a huge cast of new Pokémon takes advantage of that tropical feel like the chameleon Pokémon Kecleon, and the often forgotten but still amazing giant tree dinosaur known as Tropius.

Players get to revisit the region of Hoenn with Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, where once again, the nefarious teams known as Team Magma and Team Aqua are trying to use the power of the legendary Pokémon Groudon and Kyogre to take over the world with fire and water, respectively. Hoenn always feels in the middle of an environmental event with so much extreme weather, and it only adds to this region feeling alive.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Sinnoh

Sinnoh/Hisui

Another generation and we jump platform again, this time leaping onto the Nintendo DS with Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The Sinnoh region isn’t quite as sun-drenched as Hoenn, instead returning to the rural and mountainous inspirations of Japan and introducing us to the dashing Professor Rowan. While Diamond and Pearl introduced the touch-screen, a slew of new evolutions to older Pokémon, and the fantastic legendaries Dialga and Palkia, the actual region had its own tricks up its sleeve.

The 2022 game Pokémon Legends: Arceus gives players a glimpse of what the Pokémon world looked like centuries ago when people were still exploring and early settlements were beginning to become the towns we now know and love. Before it was known as the Sinnoh region, it was Hisui, and in fact, this region even had forms of Pokémon we had never seen before, like the adorable Hisuin Growlithe and Arcanine who possess the rock-type as well as fire. Fingers crossed we get to explore more of the Pokémon regions through this lens in the future. Pokemon Legends: Celebi, right?

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Unova

Unova

Marking a significant departure from previous generations, Unova is the first Pokémon region to not feature a Japanese influence, instead, it’s inspired by New York and different areas of the United States. Yes, I know that Orre from Pokémon Colosseum is based on America, but we’re talking about mainline regions here, so back off. While it’s still on the DS, Game Freak mastered the Pokémon engine making this generation, Pokémon Black and White, somehow look significantly more graphically impressive than Diamond and Pearl.

The moving sprites definitely help bring the Pokémon to life, but the quasi-3D elements really shine through, including the impressive architecture of Castelia City. Pokémon Black and White were originally going to be a soft reboot for the Pokémon series, which is why Unova features so many new Pokémon, as well as creatures that fulfil the roles of already existing Pokémon like Woobat, Alomalora, and Bouffalant.

Pokémon Black and White also introduced the new mechanic of seasons, with the deer Pokémon Deerling and Sawsbuck even changing their appearance to suit the season you caught them in. This adds a nice sense of progression to the games and expands on the day and night cycle players already know and love from Gold and Silver. By all estimations, Unova is next up for a remake after the recent reboot of the fourth generation with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. I hope this ambitious and impressive region is brought to life properly, and I especially hope any remake is more like the sequels, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. Long story short, they rule.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Kalos

Kalos

While X and Y might be two of the most underwhelming Pokémon games, at least the France-inspired region of Kalos still brings us some joy with its beautiful cities filled with classic architecture, the Lumiose City tower, and of course, the introduction of Mega Evolution. Looking back, I think Pokémon X and Y might be my least favourite games, mainly because of a huge lack of content and a very forgettable story. Still, I always love exploring the series’ first entry on the 3DS because at least Kalos is a beautiful region to get lost in.

It also boasts a fantastic roster of Pokémon even with a reduced number of new entries, and any generation that gives me Hawlucha can’t be that bad, surely? Pokémon X and Y’s Kalos also introduces us to Professor Sycamore, and I’m hoping given the real-life proximity between Spain and France, that perhaps a touch of Kalos could become explorable in the upcoming titles Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Alola

Alola

Pokémon Sun and Moon reignited my passion for Pokémon, and I mean that dearly. X and Y burned me out, but Alola with its beautiful beaches, tropical jungles, and the amazing new promise of regional forms of Pokémon like Exeguttor, all drew me back in. Alola is based on Hawaii, a connection you might have already grasped from the similarities between the words Alola and Aloha.

Alola introduced us to the buff nerd known as Professor Kikui, who also moonlights as a masked wrestler, as well as the aforementioned regional forms. Seeing classic Pokémon like Vulpix, Sandshrew, and Raichi being shaped by a foreign environment is a stroke of genius, and it’s one of the few gimmicks that Game Freak hasn’t given up on in the move between generations. It all helps to make Alola feel like it’s a real adventure, far from what we knew, and it remains one of my favourite regions.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Galar

Galar

Look, when you tell a lifelong Pokémon fan that the next generation is going to be based on his home country of Britain, I think it’s fair to feel a high level of excitement. Pokémon Sword and Shield introduces the region of Galar, pulling not only from England but also from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and even the Isle of Man (the United Kingdom). It’s slightly surreal walking around a Pokémon game only to see a virtual recreation of the Roman Baths, which are just a stone’s throw away from the actual Pocket Tactics offices.

While I have my gripes with Pokémon Sword and Shield (boring story, progression is a straight line upwards, a few duff ‘mons), the DLC improves it massively. The Isle of Armor (I think it’s very rude to base a region on Britain and then spell armour wrong) and the Crown Tundra offer some much-needed variation both to the locations and the gameplay.

The Wild Area is a neat concept in Pokémon Sword and Shield. In this open environment, players can travel anywhere in a large arena, capture Pokémon, and even control the camera for the first time. While this and the Dynamax Raids are great, both aspects of the DLC honed and perfected these, and the Crown Tundra gives us a beautiful snowy landscape to explore, even more amazing raid battles, and introduces the Galarian versions of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. Pokémon Sword and Shield, this is your redemption.

Pokemon regions: a detailed map shows an illustration of the Pokemon region Paldea

Paldea

The Pokémon train never stops, and while some thought it might be too soon for a new generation, Game Freak announced earlier this year that generation nine is incoming, introducing us to the Spain-inspired region of Paldea. While Alola is sunny and filled with jungles, Paldea has the wide open plains of a country like Spain, as well as the gorgeous colourful architecture focusing on socialising and sharing food like you might find in cities like Barcelona or Valencia.

While we don’t know a whole lot about Paldea just yet, we do know that players are to meet Professor Sada and Turo, depending on if they buy Pokémon Scarlet or Violet respectively. This alongside the traditional design of Koraidon and the futuristic design of Miraidon show that Game Freak is introducing a true dichotomy between the past and the future with these entries, with the Pokémon professors choosing to specialise in one side of the pendulum.

We’ll have to wait until the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet release date to get the full story, but if you want to learn more today, you can check out our guides covering Pokémon Scarlet and Violet new Pokémon, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet legendaries, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Tera Raid battles, and make sure you bag yourself a special flying tera type Pikachu when you buy the games with our Pokémon Scarlet and Violet mystery gift codes guide.

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