Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

The world of gaming is filled with a variety of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and gameplay mechanics. One such genre is the role-playing game (RPG), which allows players to take on the role of a character and embark on a quest or adventure. One game that has been the subject of much debate in recent years is the beloved franchise, Pokemon. But the question remains, is Pokemon really an RPG? In this article, we will explore the debate and delve into the gameplay mechanics of Pokemon to determine if it fits the criteria of an RPG. So, get ready to embark on a journey and discover the truth about this iconic franchise.

What is an RPG?

Definition and Characteristics

  • Role-playing game: A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. These characters often have unique abilities and attributes, and players can customize their characters to suit their preferred playstyle.
  • Player-controlled characters: In an RPG, players control the actions of their characters, making decisions on their behalf and guiding them through the game world. This level of control gives players a sense of ownership over their characters and allows them to shape their experiences in the game.
  • Customizable attributes and abilities: One of the defining characteristics of RPGs is the ability for players to customize their characters’ attributes and abilities. This might involve allocating points to different attributes like strength, intelligence, or charisma, or it might involve choosing from a range of skills or abilities that the character can learn over time.
  • Turn-based combat: In many RPGs, combat is turn-based, meaning that each player takes turns making actions during battle. This slows down the pace of combat and allows players to carefully consider their moves, making it a key element of the RPG experience.
  • Quests and storylines: RPGs often feature a variety of quests and storylines that players can follow, providing a sense of purpose and direction as they explore the game world. These quests might involve solving puzzles, defeating enemies, or interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) in various ways.

Overall, RPGs are characterized by their focus on player choice and customization, as well as their rich and immersive game worlds. While not all games that feature these elements are RPGs, these characteristics are often considered central to the genre.

The Origins of Pokemon

Key takeaway: Pokemon is a hybrid game that blends elements from multiple genres, including role-playing games (RPGs), strategy games, and adventure games. The debate over whether Pokemon is an RPG is ongoing, with some arguing that it meets the criteria for an RPG, while others argue that its unique blend of gameplay mechanics and emphasis on monster-collecting and battling makes it a distinct genre. Regardless of classification, Pokemon’s enduring appeal can be attributed to its unique gameplay mechanics and sense of adventure and exploration.

Creation and Evolution

The Pokemon franchise, created by Satoshi Tajiri and popularized by Nintendo, has been a cultural phenomenon since its inception in 1996. The concept for Pokemon was born from Tajiri’s love for insect collecting and his experience playing the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. The original concept, called “Capsule Monsters,” involved collecting and battling monsters that were kept in capsules.

The idea for the game was further developed by Tajiri and his team at Game Freak, with the addition of elements such as evolution and the concept of catching wild Pokemon. The first games in the series, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, were released in 1996 for the Game Boy and introduced the concept of catching and battling Pokemon, as well as the iconic characters of Pikachu and Mewtwo.

As the franchise evolved, so did the mechanics of the games. The introduction of the Pokemon National Pokédex in 1998 helped to further solidify the concept of collecting and cataloging Pokemon. The addition of new elements, such as the introduction of Pokémon types in Generation II, and the implementation of the Pokémon Global Trade System in Generation III, further expanded the gameplay and depth of the franchise.

The franchise has continued to evolve over the years, with new generations of games, movies, and TV shows. Despite this evolution, the core concept of collecting and battling Pokemon has remained at the heart of the franchise. This has led to ongoing debate among fans and critics alike: is Pokemon truly an RPG?

Pokemon Gameplay

Features and Mechanics

  • Collecting and battling creatures: The core of the Pokemon gameplay revolves around collecting and battling creatures. Players can capture and train various species of Pokemon, each with unique abilities and strengths. Battles are turn-based, allowing players to strategize and make use of their Pokemon’s moves effectively.
  • Turn-based combat: In Pokemon games, battles are turn-based, which means that players take turns to select moves for their Pokemon. This system requires players to think carefully about their choices, as they must balance offense and defense while managing their Pokemon’s health and stamina.
  • Gym Battles and Badges: Gym Battles are a key component of the Pokemon series, where players challenge Gym Leaders to battles in order to earn Badges. Winning Badges is not only a sign of achievement but also allows players to access new areas and continue their journey.
  • Exploration and quests: The Pokemon games are known for their vast open worlds, filled with secrets and side quests. Players can explore towns, forests, caves, and other locations, encountering wild Pokemon and engaging in battles. Additionally, players can undertake quests from NPCs (Non-Player Characters) to earn rewards and progress the story.
  • Customization and leveling up: Pokemon games offer players the ability to customize their character’s appearance and outfit. As players progress through the game, their Pokemon will level up, gaining new abilities and becoming stronger. This encourages players to continuously battle and train their Pokemon to reach their full potential.

Comparison to Traditional RPGs

One of the primary aspects to consider when examining whether Pokemon qualifies as an RPG is its gameplay mechanics. By comparing the gameplay of Pokemon to that of traditional RPGs, we can better understand the similarities and differences between the two genres.


  • Both Pokemon and traditional RPGs involve character progression, with players controlling their characters’ abilities and stats as they progress through the game.
  • Both genres incorporate elements of exploration, with players navigating various environments and discovering new locations and items.
  • Both games feature a storyline or narrative that unfolds as the player progresses, with characters and plot developments driving the player’s experience.


  • Pokemon is often more focused on combat and strategic battles, while traditional RPGs may emphasize more dialogue and exploration-based gameplay.
  • Pokemon has a unique turn-based battle system that relies on players choosing actions and moves for their Pokemon, while traditional RPGs may feature more dynamic combat systems with multiple options for characters to engage in combat.
  • Pokemon features a robust trading and battling system, which is not typically found in traditional RPGs.

The gray area of definition

While there are clear similarities and differences between Pokemon and traditional RPGs, it is worth considering the gray area of definition when determining whether Pokemon can be classified as an RPG. The game’s unique combination of elements from both the RPG and strategy genres creates a hybrid experience that blurs the lines between the two.

In conclusion, while Pokemon shares many similarities with traditional RPGs, its unique blend of gameplay mechanics and emphasis on combat and strategic battles creates a distinct experience that sets it apart from other RPGs.

The RPG Debate: Pokemon as an RPG

Proponents of the Argument

Inclusion in RPG categories

One of the primary arguments put forth by proponents of the debate is that Pokemon has been consistently included in the role-playing game (RPG) category. The franchise has been classified as an RPG by various gaming publications, websites, and forums. This classification is based on the gameplay mechanics and the narrative structure that is synonymous with the RPG genre.

Meeting criteria

Proponents of the argument also point out that Pokemon meets the criteria for an RPG. RPGs are characterized by a focus on storytelling, non-linear gameplay, and character development. Pokemon has all these elements in abundance. The game features a compelling narrative that unfolds as the player progresses through the game, and the player’s actions have a direct impact on the story’s outcome. Additionally, the player can choose which Pokemon to use, which can significantly affect the game’s outcome.

Embracing RPG elements

Finally, proponents of the argument argue that Pokemon has embraced the RPG genre’s elements, such as leveling up, character customization, and turn-based combat. The game features a battle system that requires strategic thinking and planning, and the player can customize their Pokemon’s abilities and stats. This level of customization is typical of RPGs, and it further reinforces the argument that Pokemon is indeed an RPG.

Opponents of the Argument

  • Lack of character customization
    • While the player can choose which starter Pokemon to use at the beginning of each game, there is little to no customization of the character’s appearance or abilities. The player’s appearance is fixed, and they cannot choose their character’s gender or other physical attributes.
    • The lack of character customization is a key point that distinguishes Pokemon from other RPGs, where players often have the ability to create and customize their characters’ appearance and abilities.
  • Limited combat customization
    • While Pokemon battles involve strategy and the choice of which Pokemon to use, the battles themselves are limited in terms of customization. The player can choose which moves to use, but there is no option to change the battlefield or make any other strategic decisions.
    • The limited customization in combat is another aspect that sets Pokemon apart from other RPGs, where players often have more control over the battlefield and the strategies they employ.
  • Shift towards action-adventure games
    • Over the years, the Pokemon series has evolved from its traditional RPG roots, incorporating more action-adventure elements into its gameplay.
    • The shift towards action-adventure games has led some to question whether Pokemon should still be considered an RPG, as it no longer strictly adheres to the traditional RPG formula.
    • This shift in gameplay style has been met with mixed opinions, with some fans enjoying the new direction and others feeling that it has strayed too far from its RPG roots.

A Blend of Genres

One of the main arguments in the debate over whether Pokemon is an RPG is that it blends elements from multiple genres. While it shares some characteristics with traditional RPGs, such as character development and turn-based battles, it also incorporates elements of other genres, such as strategy games and adventure games.

Not quite an RPG, but not quite anything else

Pokemon’s unique blend of genres has led some to argue that it doesn’t fit neatly into any one category. It has been described as a “hybrid” or “fusion” game, with elements from multiple genres combined in a way that creates something new and distinct.

Defining a new genre

Others have suggested that Pokemon has created a new genre altogether. This genre could be described as “monster-collecting RPGs,” which emphasizes the collection and battling of various creatures. However, this genre is still relatively undefined and lacks clear boundaries.

Emphasizing unique gameplay mechanics

Another reason why Pokemon is often debated as an RPG is because of its unique gameplay mechanics. For example, the concept of “Pokemon” as creatures that can be caught, trained, and battled is a key aspect of the game’s design. The game also features a strong emphasis on exploration, with players encountering wild Pokemon and battling other trainers as they traverse different environments.

The enduring appeal of Pokemon

Despite the debate over whether Pokemon is an RPG, one thing is clear: the franchise has been incredibly successful and has a dedicated fanbase. This is due in part to the unique gameplay mechanics and the sense of adventure and exploration that the game offers. Whether or not it fits neatly into the RPG genre, Pokemon has become a beloved part of gaming culture and continues to inspire new generations of players.


1. What is an RPG?

An RPG, or Role-Playing Game, is a type of video game that allows players to assume the role of a character in a fictional world. In these games, players often have the ability to customize their character’s appearance, abilities, and equipment, and they interact with other characters and the game world in a variety of ways.

2. What is Pokemon?

Pokemon, short for “Pocket Monsters,” is a popular media franchise that includes video games, trading card games, and a cartoon series. The franchise is centered around fictional creatures called “Pokemon,” which can be caught and trained by trainers known as “Pokemon trainers.” The franchise has been a cultural phenomenon since its creation in the 1990s.

3. Is Pokemon considered an RPG?

The question of whether or not Pokemon is considered an RPG is a matter of debate. While some people argue that Pokemon meets the definition of an RPG because it involves character customization and exploration, others argue that it does not fit the definition because it lacks traditional RPG elements such as a complex storyline and dialogue options. Ultimately, whether or not Pokemon is considered an RPG comes down to personal interpretation.

4. What are some key features of an RPG?

Some key features of an RPG include character customization, a detailed world to explore, NPCs (non-player characters) to interact with, a storyline or plot, and a battle system. However, not all RPGs include all of these features, and some may have additional elements that set them apart from others.

5. How does Pokemon compare to other RPGs?

Pokemon differs from other RPGs in several ways. For example, while other RPGs often have complex storylines and dialogue options, Pokemon focuses more on catching and battling Pokemon. Additionally, while other RPGs may allow players to explore a fully-realized world, Pokemon takes place primarily in small, isolated areas called “Pokemon Centers” and “Pokemon Gyms.” Ultimately, while Pokemon shares some similarities with other RPGs, it has its own unique gameplay mechanics and style.

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