Grace Teng

Pokémon Diploma of Diplomas

This is a living document about a long-running project. Expect details, including the ruleset, to change over time.

A while ago, while reading about what Pokémon players needed to do before the closure of the Nintendo 3DS eshop, the germ of an idea took root in my head and refused to die:

I should diploma every Pokémon game.

The diploma, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Pokémon, is an in-game achievement in the mainline Pokémon games awarded to players who literally catch’em all.

As a kid, I completed many of the Pokémon games, but I never completed a Pokédex. Initially, I jokingly referred to this project as “Childhood Wish Fulfilment”, but as much as my inner child wants to keep that name, “Diploma of Diplomas” is a much better name for this project.

Streams and Videos

I’m streaming this project on Twitch and posting the videos to YouTube.

I don’t have a regular schedule, but I’ll try and put in at least an hour a week. This is going to be a very long-running project.

Progress

As of 3 Sept 2023, I am playing Pokémon Red (YouTube playlist).

I am on game 1 out of 41 (see Game List below).

In this game, I have caught 57 out of 150 Pokémon required for the diploma, and earned 6 out of 8 gym badges.

Self-Imposed Rules

There are some ground rules I’ve set for myself on this project:

  1. No PC-based emulation or flashcarts for diploma save files: Leaving legality aside, this project is about grown-up me fulfilling childhood fantasies of completing a Pokédex on Nintendo hardware.

Because I want to stream this project, a little futzing around this rule is necessary: I have a Gameboy Advance modded with mini HDMI out, a New 3DS XL modded with a hardware capture card, and have an Analogue Pocket on the way. That’s why I have the weaselly modifier that no “PC-based” emulation is permitted.

I acquired the entire catalogue of GB, GBC, GBA, DS and 3DS core Pokémon game cartridges; to the best of my knowledge, these game cartridges are genuine, and yes, I am a sucker for paying those prices. Almost anything can be justified when you call it “childhood wish fulfilment”.

Regarding flashcarts: there is one situation in which I expect to need a flashcart to complete the Pokédex. FireRed and LeafGreen have three Roaming Pokémon (Raikou, Entei and Suicune) that are all required for the Pokédex, but only one Roaming Pokémon can appear in each game! To work around this, I plan to start a game on either FireRed or LeafGreen, play until I catch the Roaming Pokémon for that game, then dump the save file and load it onto a flashcart. I will then restart the game on the original cartridge and trade the Roaming Pokémon into it.

  1. Start from Generation I, and do not move on to the next generation until I have obtained diplomas in each game in the current generation: This rule is self-explanatory. An additional note: I consider Generation I to consist of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Maybe one day I’ll play the Japanese Red and Green, but it won’t be as part of this undertaking.
  2. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the exception to the above rule. I will play PLA last: There are two reasons for this. The first is that if I do not have this rule, I will never reach Generation IX. PLA is too long, and its gameplay too different from the rest of the mainline Pokémon games, for me to be able to handle it as part of Generation VIII. The second reason is that it is only right that Arceus be the last Pokémon I catch in this project.
  3. In games with multiple diplomas, I must obtain all of them: If the game has a Regional Pokédex and a National Pokédex, the diplomas for completing both are required. If the game has multiple Regional Pokédexes and a National Pokédex, all the corresponding diplomas required. If a game has DLC, the DLC Pokédexes are required. The exception to the “every diploma” rule are the Time Travel Awards, which I’ll only do if they’re convenient; I don’t really want to go out of my way to plan for them.
  4. No transferring of Pokémon to a game where that Pokémon can be caught: If a Pokémon can be caught in that game, it should be caught in that game. Yes, this lengthens each game considerably, but I want to do minimal trading within and across generations.

Important exception 1: Generation II is especially punishing when it comes to Roaming Pokémon. I don’t want to try to catch Raikou and Entei three times each, when doing it once is already a grind, and simple mistakes or bad luck could mean that the Pokémon is gone forever. For Generation II only, I will allow Raikou, Entei, Suicune and Ho-Oh to be traded back and forth. (Although Ho-Oh is not a Roaming Pokémon, Pokémon Crystal requires you to be the original trainer of Raikou, Entei and Suicune for that save game in order to catch Ho-Oh, so permitting trades of the three Roaming Pokémon instead of requiring an in-game catch implies Ho-Oh needs to be traded as well.)

Important exception 2: In Generation I, Porygon can only be purchased at the Celadon Game Corner for 9999 coins, and you can only buy 50 coins at a time. That means standing in front of the Game Corner counter and mashing the A button for the duration of ~200 purchases watching the coin counter go up and my money counter go down. I think this is a profoundly uninteresting endeavour, and I don’t intend to repeat it three times. For Porygon only, I will allow trading between Generation I games even though it is technically obtainable in each game. For Generation II games onward, I haven’t decided if I will apply the same rule, since it’s less of a grind when you can buy 500 coins at a time.

Important exception 3: I haven’t decided how I will obtain Spiritomb in Generation IV, but it’s very likely that I will allow for a similar exception in order to avoid repeating the grind of talking to myself 32 times in the Underground.

  1. Assembling a Living Pokédex is out of scope: I’ve honestly never really been interested in a living dex. I guess I think of each Pokémon generation as being somewhat self-contained. I’m also not going to organise my Pokémon by dex order, or go out of my way to get all the alternate forms of Pokémon.
  2. Event Pokémon are not required: Mythical Pokémon are generally not required for diplomas. Where they are required, they’re typically available in-game. The basic idea is that no Event Pokémon are required for diplomas, so no Event Pokémon will be required for this project.

This ruleset is subject to change. The goal is to have fun, and if any of the above rules start to feel like arbitrary constraints on fun, I will revisit them.

Questions and Suggestions

If you have any questions or suggestions about this project, your best bet is to send me a message on Mastodon @grace@mastodon.graceteng.me.

You can also leave me a comment on a YouTube video, if you prefer.

Game List

This list will be updated as new Pokémon games and DLCs get released.

The game I am currently working on is in bold.

  1. Red (YouTube playlist)
  2. Blue
  3. Yellow
  4. Gold
  5. Silver
  6. Crystal
  7. Ruby
  8. Sapphire
  9. Emerald
  10. FireRed
  11. LeafGreen
  12. Diamond
  13. Pearl
  14. Platinum
  15. HeartGold
  16. SoulSilver
  17. Black
  18. White
  19. Black 2
  20. White 2
  21. Pokémon X
  22. Pokémon Y
  23. Omega Ruby
  24. Alpha Sapphire
  25. Sun
  26. Moon
  27. Ultra Sun
  28. Ultra Moon
  29. Let’s Go, Pikachu!
  30. Let’s Go, Eevee!
  31. Sword
  32. Shield
  33. Isle of Armor
  34. Crown Tundra
  35. Brilliant Diamond
  36. Shining Pearl
  37. Scarlet
  38. Violet
  39. Teal Mask (to be released fall 2023)
  40. Indigo Disk (to be released winter 2023)
  41. Legends: Arceus