How to transfer Pokemon from older games to newer ones

Nintendo /

The other day I was talking to a fellow gamer about how I felt like the Jirachi giveaway in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl kind of sucked. I still use the Jirachi I’ve had for almost 20 years and it felt really rare up until that point. He responded with something along the lines of “How in the hell do you still have that one?” That’s when I realized a lot of people don’t realize how far back you can transfer Pokemon from (if you have the means).

Now, obviously, I’m not talking about the dirty, dirty fools that cheat and hack their own Pokemon. Those are bad people and we’re not talking about them here today. There is a special place in hell for them and it will be separate from ours.

Anywho, let’s get into it, generation by generation.

Generation 1 (Red, Blue/Green, Yellow) and Generation 2 (Gold, Silver, Crystal)

Humble Bundle gives access to Pokemon Crystal, the largest of the Pokemon Games
Nintendo /

The first two generation of games are fairly alone if you have the originals. Generation 1 and 2 could trade with each other on Game Boy via a link cable. It was pretty revolutionary at the time but, sadly, Generation 2 couldn’t link with Generation 3 so that lineage sort of died there.

Now, I will say that the 3DS made downloadable versions of these games that you could then transfer to Pokemon Bank and then to Pokemon Home. But be warned, while it’s cool to have older Pokemon, trading it from these games doesn’t mean too much and, honestly, the early games were an absolute SLOG. So, do it if you want but oh my god it’s so boring.

Generation 3 (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, Leafgreen)

Alright here’s where things get pretty tricky and awesome. Generation 3 is as far back as you can really go with legit Pokemon. This is the generation from which my aforementioned Jirachi was from. Not only could these games trade with each other, but also if you had Pokemon Colosseum you could use a Game Boy Advance to Gamecube link cable to transfer Pokemon from one to the other. In addition, if you preordered Colosseum as I did, you got the Pokemon Colosseum Bonus Disc which gave you the rare chance to get Jirachi and transfer it to your Game Boy Advance game.

You can also transfer them into games from…

Generation 4 (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver)

This was the first generation on the Nintendo DS. In addition to it being the first system with two screens, the DS was special because it also had two game slots. A slot for DS games at the top as well as a slot at the bottom for Game Boy Advance games.

Because of this, if you had a Generation 4 game AND a Generation 3 game in at the same time, you could transfer from 3 to 4. For example, if you’re playing Pokemon Diamond and plug FireRed in the bottom, you could head over to the Pal Park and transfer them over from the older games.

There was also a slew of games that you could transfer from on other consoles like Pokemon Battle Revolution. For example, you could get a Mew from Pokemon Ranch on the Wii or a Manaphy from an event in Pokemon Ranger. This was all done wirelessly.

From there you can also transfer them to Generation 5 which you can read about on the next page.

Generation 5 (Black, White, Black 2, White 2)

This was a wacky generation. A lot of things were done very differently in this time as Nintendo was experimenting with a LOT of different data transfer ideas. For example, if you wanted to transfer Generation 4 to 5 you’d have to play a minigame in which stored the Pokemon in a file that could be accessed by Generation 5 for a one-way transfer.

There were also other spin-off games that allowed transfers but these were also bizarre. You had Pokemon Dream Radar which was a 3DS AR game that had you physically move around trying to find Pokemon and capture them in AR. This allowed you to capture Pokemon you could then transfer including many of the previous legendary Pokemon but also was the only way to catch Landorus, Thundorus, and Tornadus in their Therian form for the first time.

In addition, they also introduced Pokemon Dream World. Existing as a browser-based title that involved you creating a Pokemon Trainer account and syncing it to your game, this game allowed you to discover Pokemon via little mini-games that you could then transfer to your Generation 5 game.

You could also bring those into…

Generation 6 (X, Y, OmegaRuby, AlphaSapphire)

I still remember this one. To get Generation 5 Pokemon into 6 you had to download TWO apps. First you needed the Pokemon Transfer App which allowed you to take Pokemon from Generation 5 and upload them to your 3DS. Then you needed Pokemon Bank which could store Pokemon from Generation 6 games or take them permanently from Pokemon Transfer.

There really wasn’t a lot here other than downloading the apps. You opened boxes, moved Pokemon from one play to another. No mini game, no browser shenanigans.

Speaking of needing two apps though, meet…

Generation 7 (Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, Ultra Moon, Let’s Go Eevee, Let’s Go Pikachu)

This was a weird generation because it’s one of the few that saw a massive technological leap and had to adjust accordingly mid-generation.

With Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon you could still use Pokemon Bank to transfer betwixt games, but if you wanted to put them on the Switch you needed a new app called Pokemon Home. This troublesome little app started here and was originally used to transfer Pokemon from the 3DS to the Switch.

This brings us to…

Generation 8 (Sword, Shield, Brilliant Diamond, Shining Pearl, Legends: Arceus)

Pokémon Sword Expansion Pass and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass. Image Courtesy The Pokémon Company International, Nintendo
Pokémon Sword Expansion Pass and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass. Image Courtesy The Pokémon Company International, Nintendo /

This is where we are now, at the time of writing this.

We’re still using Pokemon Home to transfer Pokemon from other games to Sword and Shield but, as of yet, you can’t transfer anything to and from Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as they haven’t been made compatible with Home (despite being made by the same company) and Pokemon Legends: Arceus isn’t out for another few weeks.

You can also use Pokemon Home to transfer certain Pokemon from Pokemon GO as well which is awesome because Pokemon GO is a shiny Pokemon catching machine.

Anyway, that’s how to do it. If you want Pokemon from 20 years into the past, this is the road you must take. Hope this helped!