One of the biggest decisions for when a new Pokémon game is in the horizon is figuring out which region will fit best for the Pokémon World. While that may seem like a big undertaking for those of us that don’t make the games, the people over at The Pokémon Company are very good at choosing the right spot and using landmarks and cities to their advantage.
We’ve seen them take places from America, Japan, and now they’re taking Hawaii and make an entire Pokémon world out of it. While that may seem like a lot to accomplish, they’ve also been known to throw in a little piece of real life cities into their Pokémon games, and whether we can figure them out correctly is mostly up to interpretation.
Although some of these may seem like I’m guessing based on assumption, there are a lot that are somewhat obvious that they were influenced by specific landmarks. The other neat thing about this type of design is the “Pokémon influence” on said landmarks. For example, when you read about Lumiose City and Paris later in the article, you’ll notice that they took the Eiffel Tower and turned it into something that resembles it, but not necessarily stealing the entire idea of it. They made sure that when you looked at it straight on though, that you’d know that it was influenced by the Eiffel Tower. This is why we’re here today, to talk about the places and landmarks in Pokémon that are definitely or are assumed to be based on real places.
15. Sky Arrow Bridge
Sky Arrow Bridge is seen in Pokémon Black & Pokémon White. It shows up between Pinwheel Forest and Castelia City. There are viewing areas, and access to items. Sky Arrow Bridge also shows up in Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 but it’s closed off until the player beats the Hall of Fame. Skyarrow Bridge takes direct influence from Brooklyn Bridge found in New York City, and Rainbow Bridge found in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. This is what I meant about the creators of the games taking the influence and turning them into something immaculate. While Pokémon Black and Pokémon White were not the first to use the improved graphics that are seen in previous generations, the games still manage to create vast atmospheres that are almost breathtaking for a game on a handheld system. This has a lot to do with how much the developers of the games want people to feel immersed into the game play, and let me tell you, it works.
14. Lumiose City
Lumiose City has got to be one of the biggest undertakings that we’ve seen the developers take on in terms of what they expect to show us in an upcoming Pokémon game, and my God they did not disappoint. Back when Pokémon X and Pokémon Y were still being developed, we had no idea what to expect, especially with how good the graphics were starting to look. The minute I stepped foot into Lumiose City, I was taken away with how immaculate everything looked, packed with so much to do, and seeing Pokémon roam the streets. It really creates its own world within the world, which is evident based on the fact that Lumiose City is the most populated city in the Pokémon World in this game. If you hadn’t guessed already, Lumiose City takes inspiration from Paris, and the Prism Tower shown in the image above is heavily based on the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
13. Mt. Silver
Mt. Silver or otherwise known as Silver Cave made its début in Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. Although you were unable to reach this place until the end of the game, the memories attached are insurmountable. The only way you got to this place was by defeating all 16 gym battles, making your way through Victory Road, and becoming the new Pokémon League Champion. People still talk about the battle with Red as one of the greatest trainer battles in Pokémon history and rightfully so. It defines you as a trainer and you’ll find out very quickly if you are ready to take on the strongest trainer in the game, or if you’re simply not ready to take on the challenge. Not only being one the most beautiful pieces of landmark in the game, it holds the strongest trainer in the game, giving you a real taste of what it takes as a true Pokémon trainer. Mt. Silver takes influence from Mt. Fuji found on Honshu Islands in Japan, and it’s the biggest mountain in Japan.
12. Castelia City
Even though I consider Lumiose City to be the most beautifully made cities in a Pokémon game, Castelia City takes a strong second. You’ll find this city in the midst of everything else in Unova city, and it’s home to the businesses and economy that allows the Unova region to flourish. The minute you walk into Castelia City, you’ll be taken away by the view of the huge skyscrapers and the beautiful music that begins to play. It fills you with joy to see how well a city is doing, and yes I realize this is just a location in a game. Castelia City has the added benefit of opening you up to places to train and gather items for your adventure. Judging by the large buildings and surrounding water, and it being the central hub of the region, we can safely acknowledge that the main influence is of New York City located in the United States.
11. Alola Region
You’ve seen me talk about Pokémon Sun and Moon before, and I can’t seem to keep my excitement about under wraps. Everything about the new Pokémon games just show that the developers are planning to keep their head above water, and will do whatever they have to do to gain back the trust of the players that have lost faith in them. We’re being treated to a game where its sole purpose is to get people immersed into a world based on Hawaii. They’re not going to stop there however, especially with the recent news of Ultra Beasts, and region specific attributes that are taking over some of the Pokémon we’ve come to know and love. We’ve seen the developers take chances with different regions over time with every Pokémon game release, and I feel this one will be groundbreaking, and almost impossible to surpass, and I’m ever more excited to take my first steps into the Alola Region.
10. Hollywood (Anime)
While a lot of real world influence goes into creating the Pokémon games, we still have a few instances in the Pokémon anime where we’ll see a snippet of the real world. During the Go West Young Meowth episode, you find the characters in the anime equivalent of Hollywood, however although it is based on the real city of the same name, there are no famous landmarks present in the anime to showcase. The only things worth mentioning that take place in this location is the Pokémon Theater where the characters were invited to watch Pokemon In Love. Other than that, there isn’t a lot more to it than the empty sidewalks and lack of business taking place. If Hollywood were put into a Pokémon game however, I imagine we’ll see a lot more go into it than just one theater, but the anime has to focus more on story, while the video games have the freedom of letting the character progress when they want to.
9. Alto Mare (Anime)
On the topic of anime specific locations, we have Alto Mare. Although the surrounding cities of Cherrygrove City and Azalea Town are present in Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, Alto Mare did not make the cut to be put into the games, for one reason or another. Alto Mare is located on an isolated island near the aforementioned locations, it is the setting for Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias. You can probably guess based on the image above that the main influence behind the design of Alto Mare is of course Venice, Italy, and with that makes Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias the first movie based on a city outside of Japan. This is another one of those instances where you feel a location in an anime would work really well in a Pokémon game as a side quest, but for one reason or another, it never made it in.
8. Tubeline Bridge
Moving right on back into the Pokémon games, we have another one of the most beautiful pieces of landmarks shown in a Pokémon game, Tubeline Bridge. Much like Sky Arrow Bridge, this bridge serves some of the same purpose in Pokémon Black and Pokémon White and the sequels respectively. It’s located between route 8 and route 9, and much like Sky Arrow Bridge, the developers went all out on the design and made it an unforgettable experience to cross, while simultaneously keeping to the original design. When you set foot on the bridge for the first time, you’ll be taken away by the simple notion that you can watch trains passing by which on its own makes it feel like you’re really there. On such a small system, the bridge feels vast and expansive. Tubeline Bridge borrows a lot of its design influence from The Forth Bridge located over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.
7. Mt. Mortar
Taking a few steps back into the older generation of Pokémon games, we have Mt. Mortar. Located in the Johto region, Mt. Mortar takes home between Ecruteak City and Mahogany Town and is one of the few times in the earlier generations where a location on the map was optional and not necessary to you beating the game. Much different from the last few locations I’ve talked about in this article, Mt. Mortar has an odd origin leading back to believing that it is based off Mt. Suribachi. Strictly based off the Japanese name Mt. Suribachi, it takes the same name as the volcano located in Iwo Jima, Japan. Based on the structure alone, it’s believable that Mt. Mortar would be based off of Mt. Suribachi. While the speculation feels correct, Mt. Mortar actually gets its name from mortar bowls which are used for grinding and mixing substances, where a suribachi is the Japanese equivalent.
6. Unova Region
One of the main things I love about watching the development of Pokémon games is finding out what cities or countries the games are going to be based on. We’ve discussed the Alola Region which is based off Hawaii, but throughout the history of Pokémon games, we’ve seen many adaptations of states, countries, and the like. The Unova Region is a great example of this because it not only takes one country, or one state, or one landmark, but instead takes multiple, and turns it into a world of its own. The main influence behind Unova is New York City, where you’ll find landmarks, mountainous areas, and everything else that will make you feel as though you’re running around in the real world. On top of that, some of the landmarks and urban areas are based off of parts in New Jersey. Much like Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias, Unova is the first game series region that isn’t based on Japan.
5. Pokemon League (Kalos Region)
One of my all time favorite things about the Pokémon games in any generation is seeing how the Pokémon League challenge is altered with each games improvement in graphics. When it came to the Kalos region, we were given not only one of my favorite Pokémon League face-offs, but given one of the most beautiful pieces of landmark ever seen in a Pokémon game. Given that Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are based in France, it’s fair to assume that the building that homes the Pokémon League is based off of Château de Chambord which is one of the most recognizable buildings in France, making it match the description of the building seen in Pokémon. This is further confirmed by the structures almost mimicking one another, with the Pokémon League building still having its own unique flare. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y saw a lot of great things happening with structures and this is another fine example of this at work.
4. Melemele Island
Back onto the topic of the Alola Region for Pokémon Sun and Moon, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the two big islands that have been revealed to us so far, one of which being Melemele Island. At the current moment, there isn’t a whole lot known about Melemele Island other than the fact that its design comes from Oahu, Hawaii. Its home to several trials that will be taking place during the island challenge such as the Verdant Cavern trial and the Grand trial. Melemele Island has also become home to the island’s guardian deity known as Tapu Koko, an electric and fairy type Pokémon, which is said to have been designed to look similar to a totem pole. Geographically, they both look similar, which the developers have always been very good at, so it won’t be very hard to pinpoint where you are when the games are released.
3. Akala Island
Right alongside Melemele Island, we have Akala Island. Much like the aforementioned, Akala Island is based off of Maui, Hawaii. Similarly, there is not much known about Akala Island other than the fact that its also home to several different trials shown throughout the game like the Lush Jungle trial. Once again, looking at the shape of the island in the upcoming game, and the actual shape of Maui, it looks as though the developers are staying true to the design while simultaneously adding in their own niche. From what we know right now, there doesn’t seem to be any specific island deity, but during the Lush Jungle trial, it looks as though you’ll face off against a totem Pokémon by the name of Lurantis, a grass type Pokémon Strictly based off the lack of content for this island, I don’t expect there to be too much to do on this specific part of the island other than completing part of the island trial.
2. Orre Region
As we’ve seen with the main Pokémon games, the side games also draw influence from real world places. Pokémon Colosseum specifically was based in the Orre Region. With the arid climate and wasteland like qualities, it has been noted that this region drew its inspiration from Phoenix, Arizona, sharing the arid climate that is shown throughout the game. Differing from the main games, the Orre Region has no wild Pokémon, but only a few show up in what they call Poké Stops. Throughout the game, you’ll face off in a variety of different trainer battles with no lead up to any sort of Pokémon League. It does however share the same quality as later Pokémon games have which are double battles, which is how Pokémon Colosseum showcases their trainer battles. There are very few cities and towns in Pokémon Colosseum, more due to the game focusing more on Colosseum style battles.
1. Gateon Port
Going alongside the Orre Region from Pokémon Colosseum, you’ll find yourself in Gateon Port which was first seen in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. Much like a small town in the main Pokémon games like Pallet Town or Viridian City, Gateon Port offers trade, battles, and different shops for different needs. The origin is within the same realm as Mt. Mortar where there hasn’t been a definitive confirmation for its influence, rather the location and look of Gateon Port is confirmation enough for its influence. It’s said that Gateon Port is based off of Lake Havasu City, Arizona which shares multiple similarities to Gateon Port, one most importantly being the geographical location shared with the geographical location of Phenac City. Also given the nature of Lake Havasu City being home to multiple lighthouses much like Gateon Port, it’s enough to conclude that Gateon Port is more influenced on Lake Havasu City than anything else.