One of the first questions a Pokémon fan asks when a new pair of games is announced is “Are my favourite ‘mons going to make the cut this time?” While most of the mainline RPGs have allowed players to trade their friends from one game to another, that’s become a much more contentious thing since Game Freak did away with the National Dex in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
So now, instead of knowing that your fave will join you on your journey to Pokémon League champion, it’s a legitimate question. It’s why I, despite avoiding story spoilers, tend to look at Pokédex leaks ahead of time to see how many of my ride or dies make it to the new game. This is because even the most popular Pokémon aren’t always guaranteed a seat at the table in each region. In fact, only three Pokémon have been in at least one version of every game, and it’s probably not who you think it is.
I can’t stop thinking about what Pokemon are available in each game after seeing a TikTok from user @ogio_go on the subject. While their video does have the caveat of discussing Pokémon you can “catch” in the games (as in ones that are out in the wild and obtained through battle, rather than a special event or sidequest), it does point out that Pikachu, the face of the multibillion-dollar franchise isn’t obtainable in every game without a trade or event.
The reason the little yellow guy isn’t available in every mainline game is the reason a lot of Generation I Pokémon can’t claim the title of Pokémon Featured In Every Mainline Game: 2010’s Black and White. While the Generation V games are pretty beloved in hindsight, there was controversy at launch because the games were entirely made up of brand-new Pokémon, with older ones only obtainable through trading from previous games. Pikachu was available through events, but as far as being able to find one in the wild? Black and White committed to the bit and Pikachu wasn’t part of the main game.
What Pokémon are obtainable in every mainline game?
So if the headlining star of the franchise couldn’t make it into every game, who did? Well, for a bit, there was only one Pokémon who could claim that title: Magikarp. While most Generation I Pokémon had to sit on the bench for Black and White, Magikarp is obtainable through a salesman on Marvellous Bridge. Though you wouldn’t be able to reach the bridge until you beat the game (they really wanted you to play with the less-than-stellar Gen V Pokémon), Magikarp and by extension, its evolution Gyarados, are available in the Unova region, making it the only Pokémon you can get in at least one of each mainline pair of games.
Magikarp is a special case in Black and White, but there were actually two other Kanto region Pokémon obtainable in every game through special or roundabout means — until Sword and Shield. Psyduck and its evolution Golduck are also available in Unova. The confused, headache-ridden duck isn’t anywhere in the wild, but Golduck, oddly enough, is. You can find the evolved form in Route 11 or 14, but only after you’ve completed some of the late-game battles. To get Psyduck, you’ll have to breed it, but technically, yes, Psyduck naturally appears in more games than Pikachu.
While Psyduck is a beloved character thanks to the anime, and is also featured heavily in the Detective Pikachu movie, the other Kanto Pokémon available in every game is a little stranger. No, it’s not some pesky cockroach of a Pokémon like Zubat hiding in every cave, it’s Magnemite, the little metal ball with an eye and magnets attached to its side. You can find these guys floating around in White Forest, a White-exclusive location that features a handful of characters that only appear depending on how many days it takes the player to reach the forest. If Scientist Marie has taken up residence at White Forest, Magnemite will spawn in wild Pokémon encounters, which is odd, because the electric/steel Pokémon is typically seen in industrial areas like Power Plants. But because of this anomaly, Magnemite is also in more games than Pikachu.
The irony of Magnemite and Psyduck somehow becoming consistent figures in every mainline game is that they almost lost that title when Sword and Shield launched without the National Dex. At first, neither Pokémon were available in the Switch games, but both were reinstated by DLC packs with the Isle of Armour expansion, which launched eight months after the base games. This solidified Magnemite and Psyduck alongside Magikarp as the three Pokémon available in at least one of the mainline games for all nine generations while the star of the entire franchise can’t even claim that. Black and White ruined the little guy’s streak and these three weirdos are eating his lunch. Guess he’ll just have to be content with the fame, fortune, and starring role in the anime.