From the value of Zelda’s castle to building houses out of Tetris pieces, we’ve taken a stab at quite a few gaming-related topics here on the Movoto blog—and focused on some of the biggest series around. During our brainstorming sessions to come up with more famous franchises we could look at from a housing-adjacent angle, one kept making its way to the top of our to-do lists: “Pokémon.”
Created by Nintendo and Game Freaks, this classic series introduced the world to Pocket Monsters—crazy-looking creatures that are used by human “trainers” to do battle with one another. When they’re not duking it out, they live in spherical containers known as Poké Balls, and there’s been a lot of debate in the years since the original “Pokémon” titles hit Game Boy in 1998 about just what it’s like inside of Poké Balls. In other words, no one really seems to know how Pokémon live in what are, ostensibly, their houses.
Given that housing is kind of our specialty here at Movoto, we decided to take what we know about Poké Balls and figure out what’s really inside of them—or at least have a fun time doing so.
Let’s start with exactly what these things are and what they do.
The Poké Ball: A Pokémon Trainer’s Most Important Item
Part of the games (and tie-in TV shows, movies, comics, and more) since the outset, Poké Balls aren’t just used to contain Pokémon—they’re crucial to the overall goal of the series, which distills down to the catchphrase “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” Basically, players are out to capture wild Pokémon and train them so that they become cuddly fighting machines that spring into action at a moment’s notice. (When you think about it, it’s a lot like dog fighting, a mental imagine that may change the way you view Pokémon forever—sorry!)
So, the Poké Ball is more than a home—it’s also a trap, something we’re sure anyone who’s underwater on their mortgage can identify with.
Once a Pokémon has been captured by a Poké Ball, it becomes its home when it’s not fighting on behalf of its trainer. There have been various fan theories offered up over the years as to what happens to Pokémon once they’re inside, and even a few official-ish explanations, so we’ll take a look at four of them next.
What the Games, Anime, and Manga Say
When a trainer wants to recall their Pokémon into its Poké Ball, they press a button and it opens, then a beam of light shoots out hitting the Pokémon. The creature glows and is pulled inside before it snaps shut—the process sort of reminds us of the traps in “Ghostbusters,” or the transporters in “Star Trek.” Anyway, this sequence, plus the fact that the Poké Balls seem to be electronic devices, implies that the Pokémon are transformed into energy and stored inside in a non-physical form, almost like data on a USB thumb drive. This is further supported by the fact that Pokémon can be transferred from the Poké Ball using computers and sent like email attachments—talk about objectification.
Other instances, such as the “Pokémon Adventures” manga, have shown the Pokémon being physically shrunken and living inside the balls like kennels of sorts. It looks pretty inhumane, to be honest—plus, it’s not very fun. In the anime episode “Hypno’s Naptime,” Psyduck is shown crammed into a grey sphere, unable to move and waiting to be let out.
What the Fans Say
In the description for the Poké Ball item found in “Super Smash Bros. Melee” on the Nintendo GameCube, it’s mentioned that Poké Balls “contain an environment specially designed for Pokémon comfort.” This has led fans to (understandably) theorize that the balls contain a sort of “virtual reality” that replicates the Pokémon’s ideal environment. So, a fire Pokémon—there are several types, including water, fire, grass, and electric—might find a world of molten lava and flames awaiting them upon being recalled into their ball.
Some fans have been spurred to use their artistic skills to visualize what this might look like. The results have been some really neat renderings of Poké Ball interiors that look like living rooms customized to individual Pokémon.
Then there’s this classic bit from “Robot Chicken” that took viewers inside of Pikachu’s Poké Ball:
So, if you couldn’t tell yet, there really doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what exactly goes on inside a Poké Ball. Normally, this would mean we’d be left with a mystery, never to be solved or questioned. You should know by now that we’d never let that happen—we put a price tag on Hogwarts, for crying out loud.
So, with no satisfying explanation of the Pokémon living arrangement in existence, we took it upon ourselves to create one, using what we know of the franchise and its trademark critters.
What It’s Really Like Inside a Poké Ball
As you can see in the infographic we created up top, we’ve got our own take on how a Pokémon would live. Given the amount of time they spend cooped up inside a Poké Ball, we have to imagine they’d want some amenities customized to their particular needs. That’s why we gave them:
- A shower — because battling is dirty work, and they’ll want to get cleaned up after getting sweaty from fighting
- A television — for watching battles in progress so they’re up-to-speed when called into action
- A bed — Pokémon may get healed at Pokémon Centers, but they still need to sleep
- A treadmill and workout equipment — for staying in tip-top physical condition
- A professional Poké-masseuse — for working out the kinks and aches that come with constantly battling opponents
- A training room and practice dummies — so they can keep their attacks and strategies honed
- A hot tub — for chilling with other Pokémon after a long week of fighting
- Pictures of their trainer — Pokémon suffer from a sort of Stockholm syndrome, where they’re extremely loyal to the person who takes them captive
What’s more, the interior of our Poké Ball would be customized to each individual Pokémon, with an ample supply food they like, imagery of their native environments, and even pools of water, grass, lava, or other native elements to bask in—the perfect respite from battle.
Living the Poké Dream
Whenever you have something as beloved as Pokémon—and as ill-defined as the interior of a Poké Ball—you’re bound to get a lot of varying opinions. That’s why we’d like to hear what you think is inside the circular confines these critters call home. Better yet, tell us in the comments what you’d put in a Poké Ball to ensure a Pokémon’s maximum comfort when they’re off the clock. We’ll highlight the best in a future post, so let your imagination run wild (even if the Pokémon are penned up).
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