Legacy of GO: Catching Pokémon

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Greetings trainers!

Welcome to a brand new series of articles we’re excited to bring to you on GO Hub. We’ll be looking at some of the mechanics you may use everyday as you’re out catching, raiding and battling in Pokémon GO. We’ll investigate where these features may have been inspired by past titles in the Pokémon franchise, and how their use in Pokémon GO may have actually influenced future games. So whether GO is your first, fifth or fiftieth game in the Pokémon franchise, I hope you enjoy this journey into the past, present and future of the game!

Origin of Catching Pokémon

Pocket Monsters Red and Pocket Monsters Green, both released in Japan in 1996, were the very first Pokémon games. Pokémon Version Red and Pokémon Version Blue were later released in Japan in the same year as slightly updated versions of the original games, and then be released to North America and Australia in 1998, and Europe in 1999. For the older generations like myself, these games are where the love of Pokémon began and quickly took over every social aspect of our lives. They also introduced us to one of the core mechanics to the Pokémon franchise, the ability to catch Pokémon.

Catching tutorial from Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue

For the player, this was a simple mechanic of selecting a ball from your item bag and using it to try and catch a wild Pokémon. The game would then run a formula based on factors such as the wild Pokémon species, it’s max HP, current HP, which ball is being used and whether the Pokémon is under any special conditions such as sleep or paralyzed. The Pokémon will then either be caught or break out of the ball, and this mechanic has mostly stayed the same in the main series of games to this day. Just like in GO, the only balls available to begin with were the Poké Ball, Great Ball and Ultra Ball. 

Although Pokémon GO differs in the algorithm used to determine if a capture will be successful or not, the action of throwing a ball at a Pokémon is very much the basis of the mobile game. We’ll talk a little more about these differences later in this article.

Changes seen in  Pokémon GO

Throughout the generational advancements of Pokémon, small changes that are now seen in Pokémon GO have been introduced that affected the mechanic of catching Pokémon. While this list could go on and on with all Pokémon games, we’ll only be focusing on those that seem to have had an impact in Pokémon GO.

Pokemon GO master ball
Pokémon GO Master Ball

Master Ball

While the Master Ball was introduced in the first Pokémon games, it’s only recently been added to Pokémon GO and so deserves it’s own mention. Given to the player at the conclusion of the Team Rocket storyline, the Master Ball has always been the most powerful type of ball in Pokémon as using it was a guaranteed capture of any Pokémon. Because of this, you are only given one Master Ball per save file. However, since the generation 2 games, there have been in game lotteries or other methods with an extremely small chance of gaining more.

Premier Ball

First introduced in the generation 3 games, Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire, the Premier Ball was given to players when buying balls from the in game stores in multiples of 10. So if you bought 30 Poké Balls, you’d be given 3 Premier Balls on top. They offered no additional benefit over a regular Poké Ball, other than being a different design. In Pokémon GO, the Premier Ball came along when raids were first introduced, giving you a small number to use instead of balls from your bag. Later on, they would also be used in the same way to catch Shadow Pokémon.


GO has an incredibly large player base, due in part to the accessibility of the game on smartphones. But did you know that GO wasn’t the first Pokémon game to use a touchscreen to “catch” Pokémon? I have to use catch rather loosely there, because in the Pokémon Ranger series of games for the Nintendo DS, you used the handheld console second screen to draw circles around Pokémon using a Catch Styler to temporarily obtain it. So not only do you have using a touchscreen, but drawing circles on a touchscreen to catch Pokémon. That sounds a lot like the basis for curveball throws!

Catch Styler being used in Pokémon Ranger

Critical Catch

In Pokémon Black and Pokémon White came the chance to land a Critical Catch on a Pokémon. This feature gave you a rare chance to trigger a multiplier to your catch rate based on the number of Pokémon registered in your Pokédex. A unique sound and animation would also play to show this was a Critical Catch, the ball would whistle in the air, wiggle in mid-air and then only shake once on the ground as opposed to 3 or 4 times. In GO, a Critical Catch has an extremely slim chance of happening with no way to influence this, but it is a guaranteed catch. You will only know it’s a Critical Catch when the ball lands, shakes once and a wave of three stars fly out of the top. If you’re still chasing those pesky Galarian birds, you’re probably begging for this bonus to come along next time to see one.

Beast Ball

Seen only during specific events in GO, the Beast Balls work very much like they do in the main series games. First introduced in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, the Beast Balls were five times more effective when catching Ultra Beasts, but around 0.1% effective when used on any other Pokémon. GO players that took part in events like the Ultra Beast Arrival last year will remember how easy it was to catch these powerful creatures when the Ultra Balls were available.

Ultra Beast Arrival

Pokémon GO’s Influence

Let’s GO!

After it’s incredible launch in the Summer of 2016, Pokémon GO has had a long standing impact, but none bigger than the titles for Nintendo Switch, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s GO, Eevee! Although the setting, characters and battle mechanics were mostly remakes of the first Pokémon games, the style of catching that was taken straight from Pokémon GO. Using movement controls, the players would throw Poké Balls at wild Pokémon, with bonuses for good, great and excellent throws just like you get in Pokémon GO. Additionally, you could feed berries to calm Pokémon and make them easier to catch.

The Future?

It’s uncertain right now whether Pokémon GO will have a further impact on how future games have Pokémon caught. There has been some speculation around further Let’s Go! games based on the Johto region, but as of writing this there’s no official word that this will happen. However, Pokémon GO has continued to have other influences on the world of Pokémon, and we look forward to looking at those aspects in future additions to this series.

Author & tags

Hey, I'm Tudor. Sometimes known as SneaselClaw. I've been an avid Pokémon fan for most of my life, and as you may guess, Sneasel is my favourite. I'm a casual shiny hunter, Level 50 in Pokémon GO and team Mystic!

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