How do you get a Pikachu on a bus? Well, if it doesn't involve several generations of link cables, Nintendo consoles and laborious busywork arranging pokémon in a database I'm probably not interested.

Last week, Nintendo announced that it was closing down the Wii U and 3DS eShops surprising nobody perhaps but the announcement did set a number of pokémon-loving hearts a-palpitating as it raised the question, what does this mean for Pokémon Bank?

Bank Job

For those who don’t know, Pokémon Bank is a paid for application for the Nintendo 3DS, a spiritual successor to other pokémon hoarding software; Pokemon Box Ruby & Sapphire for the Nintendo Gamecube and My Pokémon Ranch for the Nintendo Wii. Not only did it allow you to store and move Pokémon between the 3DS Pokémon games but crucially a special app that would download with Pokémon Bank, Poké Transporter acted as a bridge between the Nintendo DS pokémon games and the 3DS ones. So, if you had all the prerequisite hardware and software and were paying for Pokémon Bank you could happily transfer your beloved pokémon all the way from the 2002 Game Boy Advance titles Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire hopping from game to game into Pokémon Bank and from there (with a linked Nintendo account) transfer into Pokémon HOME, another storage application for mobile and Nintendo Switch. From here, as long as the pokémon species in question was in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield you could transfer into current pokémon titles. HOME also allows you to transfer pokémon from, but not to, Pokémon GO and some pokémon to and from Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! At the time of writing, there isn’t compatibility between HOME and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, Pokémon Shining Pearl or Pokémon Legends Arceus but some level of compatibility is coming. Clear? The short version is, will this Wii U, eShop business sever the link between all the old games and new games? The short answer is no. Not yet. Pokemon Bank will continue to be a paid for service until March next year. It will then be free to use for an unspecified period of time before, at some point, finally being closed, or less likely, replaced with something else.

Finish The Job

However, this news has inspired me to finally get around to doing something that’s been playing on my mind for many years now. In the cold, dark and sane wee hours of the day I lay awake thinking to myself, I must tidy up my unfinished business in previous pokémon games. Although we’re not quite at last orders yet, this announcement has been just the kick up my arse to embark on a bold and deeply personal mission. Another reason to do it now is I’m also quite worried about how all my hardware is holding up (and my video game stuff ey eye yeeyeeyeye). Nintendo does make a machine to last but my GBA, Gamecube and all the cables required to keep them running have received quite a lot of use and abuse over the years. Plastic has yellowed. Consoles definitely make more noises than they used to.

I’ve called this mission OPERATION LAST BUS HOME. With the subtitle GOTTA SAVE ‘EM ALL.

Get To The Chopper

There are three objectives to OPERATION LAST BUS HOME:

OBJECTIVE 1: Make sure that I’ve caught all the legendary pokémon available in each of the previous games. Legendary pokémon such as Zapdos, Mewtwo, Dialga, Rayquaza are typically only catchable once per game and in older games you have to have your wits about you as you only get one shot to catch them or miss the chance forever. Recent games have been a bit more forgiving in this regard. These encounters come in a range of forms from static encounters after game progress to legendary pokémon that roam about the map (sigh) and ones that are only unlockable by gathering together other legendary pokémon. The aim is to catch all available legendary pokémon in each game, so ending up with several Mewtwo, Moltres etc. Some, I think, I’ve lost the chance to catch in my haste to move everything up previously. We shall see.

OBJECTIVE 2: Make sure that I’ve caught all the unique pokémon in previous games. This needs a bit of explanation. Through most of the previous pokémon games there have been special pokémon that you have to trade with NPCs for, or unlock or find in the wild. For example after a bit of legwork, Gym Leader Brock will trade you his Rhyhorn in Pokémon Heart Gold and Pokémon Soul Silver; if you watch enough TV with Pikachu in Pokémon Channel you can send an otherwise extremely difficult to catch Jirachi to your games; pokémon you purify in Pokémon Colosseum will have a move they otherwise can’t learn and have a unique ribbon you can’t get elsewhere etc. So I'm not interested in your bog standard geodude and zubat type stuff just the 'mon that have something about them you can't otherwise get in more recent games. 

OBJECTIVE 3: Try to get as many ribbons as possible on each legendary and unique pokémon as they are brought up through the software and hardware generations. Pokémon Sapphire and Pokémon Ruby introduced ribbons to the series, think of them as little permanent achievements that get attached to your NFTs pokémon and are awarded for all kinds of things such as beating the region’s champion, reaching certain levels in Battle Tower facilities as well as stuff like maxing out friendship, interacting with certain NPCs as different times and even for competing online. Pleasingly, these ribbons persist through to Nintendo Switch games so if you’ve got the will and the skill (and the time) a pokémon adorned with medals like a South Korean general in full dress uniform is a true testament to what you did instead of writing that book, building a spice rack, travelling the world etc. I say I'm aiming for as many ribbons as possible as some are now impossible or extremely difficult to get.

Now, this isn’t out first Pokémon mass exodus and in fact in our hurry to move our favourite ‘mon from game to game it turns out I wasn’t quite as fastidious as I’d once thought. After a couple of evenings creating spreadsheets relating to objectives 1, 2 and 3 and cross referencing with what I’ve brought through on Pokémon HOME, I’d actually left quite a few stones unturned. Quite a few. So in this NEW BLOG SERIES, I’ll attempt to keep a diary posting my progress through the games. The trials, the tribulations, the frustrations.  

Gearing Up

I won’t be buying any new old games and I also don’t want to restart older games that I own so it’ll just be clearing through what I’ve got. I want to keep them in the state I left them with the world generally at peace and with a completed pokédex, however, I reckon to get a clean sweep I’m going to need the following.

Hardware: Game Boy Advance, Nintendo Gamecube, GBA-GC link cable, Original Nintendo DS (with the GBA and DS game slots), 2 x Nintendo DS 2 x Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii/Nintendo WiiU, mobile phone and Nintendo Switch.

Software: Pokémon Sapphire, Pokémon Fire Red, Pokémon Colosseum, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, Pokémon Box Ruby & Sapphire, Pokémon Channel, Pokémon Ranger, Pokémon Diamond, Pokémon Soul Silver, My Pokémon Ranch, Pokémon White, Pokémon Black 2, Pokémon Dream Radar, Pokémon Y, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Pokémon Bank, Poke Transporter, Pokémon Yellow (Virtual console), Pokémon Silver (Virtual console), Pokémon Sun, Pokémon Ultra Moon, Let’s Go Pikachu!, Pokémon GO, Pokémon Shield and Pokémon HOME. 

I’ll also probably have a thousand internet tabs open.

It’s time to bring them all HOME baby. This will be fun right? It’ll also be somewhat of a last hurrah for the older games, mechanics we left behind and quality of life changes we never knew we even needed. Let the journey begin! 

Next time on OPERATION LAST BUS HOME, we go back to Kanto again, again, again, again, again in Pokémon Fire Red.


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