The Pokémon Company
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The Poké Ball (モンスターボール Monsutābōru, Monster Ball in original Japanese language versions) is a spherical contrivance in the Pokémon video games and anime television series that is used by Pokémon Trainers to capture new Pokémon and store them when not in use. The Poké Ball is also a central symbol of the franchise, and is often found on Pokémon-themed products.
A Poké Ball has a plainly visible equator, and the halves are generally of an off-white on the bottom and normally red on the top. A small circle on the surface interrupts the equator; this contains the expansion button.
The Poké Ball was designed to be both practical and effective. It can store Pokémon (and also items) as big as an Onix or heavy as a Snorlax in an extremely small space. They are also very light.
Since the beginning of the anime, the Poké Ball was shown to have two sizes. A very small one, for storage, having the size of a ping pong ball; and the bigger size, when the ball is about to be used for any purpose (releasing, capturing, retrieving, transferring, etc.), having the size of an orange. The default size of a Poké Ball is the small one, when it's technically inactive. To make it "grow", and therefore, able to be used, the trainer needs to press the button on the center to activate it. When the Poké Ball has been used it automatically returns to its original size. Though, it was sometimes shown in the anime that inactive Poké Balls were in the bigger size. In the Wasabi Peas manga, Kitsuki's Poke Ball is strictly the size of a marble.
Inside, the Poké Ball features many of what appear to be mirror panels. The inside of a Poké Ball is supposedly designed to make the Pokémon feel as comfortable as possible while inside it. While never fully explained in the anime, manga, or core video games, Super Smash Bros. Melee states that this is done by creating a holographic environment that suits the Pokémon. However, the anime has shown examples of Pokémon that do not like being in their Poké Balls; a notable example is Ash's Pikachu. In the first episode of the series when Ash tries to get his Pikachu to go into the ball, it refuses. Ash says that Pikachu should go in because that's what all Pokémon are expected to do, having his Pokédex state this for confirmation.
In the Pokémon world, scientists have been using various, highly developed techniques of converting matter into energy and back for years. The Poké Ball is a quintessential example of this technique. When a Poké Ball is thrown at a Pokémon and comes into contact with it, the ball flips open. In the anime, the button on the Poké Ball must touch the Pokémon in order for it to be captured. The ball converts the Pokémon and any attached items into energy, and sucks it inside, closing automatically in the process. The Pokémon will likely struggle, trying to break free. If the Pokémon has been sufficiently weakened in battle and/or the Poké Ball model is sufficiently strong, the Pokémon is captured and used by the trainer.
In the anime and core games, humans cannot be caught with Poké Balls, but small inanimate objects such as rice balls, rocks, etc. have been caught in Poké Balls for comedic effect early in the anime's history. In fact, it seems to hurt humans when a Poké Ball mistakenly tries to capture them (Jessie of Team Rocket gets painfully shocked when protecting a Sudowoodo from a Poké Ball). In the Manga, it was briefly discussed that Poké Balls aren't powerful enough to capture a human, but if a human was to be captured the ball would "correct" the mistake by turning the human into a various Pokémon, though this concept has never been seen in action.
Calling and Retrieve a Pokémon
When calling a Pokémon out to battle, the ball is thrown towards the battlefield, opening suspended in mid-air and releasing the Pokémon held inside. The Poké Ball then returns to the trainer's hand. In the games, the ball is just shown to be thrown, fall to the ground and open to release the Pokémon.
To retrieve the Pokémon, either because it was knocked out or the trainer wants to give it a rest, the Poké Ball is held with the button pointing at the Pokémon. The Poké Ball does not open this time. The energy from the Pokémon goes through the button to the inside.
The difference between calling out and retrieving, besides than the ball not opening when calling the creature back, is the energy of the Pokémon. When capturing or retrieving, the energy is dim red, but when calling out (and evolving) the energy is pure white and intense.When a Pokémon is released (i.e, given up) the energy is blue.
The conversion of a Pokémon into energy when inside a Poké Ball explains how some Pokémon can be many times the Trainer's height and weight, yet still fit in a Poké Ball and not make it any heavier. Nevertheless, it seems that a Pokémon inside a Poké Ball still maintains some kind of awareness, another state of consciousness, as many trainers been shown giving orders to their Pokémon before they have emerged from the Ball. Some Pokémon such as Ash Ketchum's Pikachu, dislike staying in Poké Balls, because they would feel trapped in it.
Storing the Poké Balls themselves, with or without Pokémon in them, involves a specialized computer, or "PC". In the game and the anime, whenever an official Trainer has six Poké Balls containing Pokémon with him or her, additional captured Pokémon and their Poké Balls are immediately teleported automatically to their registered Pokémon Computer Storage System. In the anime, Brock explains that the Pokédex is the mechanism keeping track of a trainer's Pokémon and is responsible for the instantaneous storage of new Pokémon caught past the six.
Not only Pokémon can be "energized", practically any item, no matter how heavy, can be converted into energy and back. This makes Poké Balls practical in the storage of some of a trainer's bulkier items.
In the anime depiction, Pokémon already belonging to a specific ball can be returned to it with a laser emitted from the expansion button on the Poké Ball. Originally, the Poké Ball opened to allow the recalled Pokémon to enter. This was later changed so that a recalled Pokémon enters through the expansion button.
Rarely shown in the anime, the episode entitled When Pokémon Worlds Collide that takes place in the Sinnoh region featured a scene where one of the rivals, Paul, releases Pokémon that he caught back into the wild. In this scene, the Pokémon come out of their shell in a blue light as opposed to white. In the video games, if the player chooses to release a Pokémon, both the Poké Ball and any attached items are also lost.
Varieties of Poké Balls
In the original games (Red, Blue, and Yellow) and in the first Kanto arc of the anime, there was the basic set of four Poké Balls, as well as Safari Balls used only in the Safari Zone. The only variance among them was in their effectiveness at capturing Pokémon. Over time, specialized Poké Balls were created for various purposes (e.g. to facilitate capturing Pokémon of a species that the trainer already owned). The anime, becoming more in sync with the games, mirrored this and occasionally showcased trainers in possession of these more distinctive balls.
Kanto's original Poké Balls
The four basic Poké Balls (Poké Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, and Master Ball) were introduced in Pokémon Red and Blue and have remained a part of the series ever since. Each ball is more effective in catching Pokémon than the preceding one, with the Master Ball able to catch any wild Pokémon without fail. In addition to these basic Poké Balls, some of the earlier games also feature a Safari Ball for use in a special Pokémon catching game played called the Safari Zone. In the very first episode of the anime, Ash watches a Pokémon battle on TV during which a trainer can be seen throwing a green and white Poké Ball (opposed to the regular red and white).
In the anime, most trainers only ever use the regular Poké Ball. The only times another type of the basic four is seen is in episode #1, as who appears to be Bruno of the Elite Four, calling back a Nidorino and calling out an Onix from a Great Ball, and in episode #351, Whiscash and Ash, in which a self-proclaimed "Legendary Fisherman" tries to capture the titular Whiscash with a Master Ball. He ironically fails when the Whiscash swallows the ball after it's thrown. However, in a later episode, Munchlax eats the Poké Ball thrown at it, but is then captured from the inside-out.
Unique Poké Balls in the anime include those owned by Richie who uses star-shaped stickers to aid in identification, and Pikachu's, which has a lightning bolt symbol sticker near the top.
The Master Ball item (which, as noted above, will catch any wild Pokémon without fail) has gained further notoriety beyond that of the other Poké Balls due to its constant focus as an exploitable item. In the original games, the player could only acquire one Master Ball.
The Apricorn Balls
The Apricorn Balls were later introduced in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal and have remained exclusive to those three titles. Unlike other Poké Balls which must be found or bought, Apricorn Balls are obtained for free. Trainers find different colored Apricorns on trees and give them to Kurt at his house in Azalea Town. After a real day, the player can return to Kurt's house to receive a special kind of Poké Ball. The different types depend on the color of the Apricorn. The Johto games were also the first to offer a history for Poké Balls, explaining that before the creation of synthetic materials people in the Pokémon universe used Apricorns.
Other Poké Balls
Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced the Park Ball, a ball similar to the Safari Ball, which lets the user participate in a bug catching game. This is reused in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Pokémon Platinum, and Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver in an area called "Pal Park".
When Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were released, they introduced several new Poké Balls. The Timer Ball and the Repeat Ball - capable of increasing in effectiveness depending on length of battle or whether the trainer has already caught that type of Pokémon, respectively. Instead of strict duplication like that seen with the Level Ball and its newer counterpart, the Nest Ball, developers expanded upon the Lure Ball and even created a second specialized version to capitalize on one of their new concepts. The new Net Ball was created to replace the Lure Ball, and expanded its capabilities by proving more effective not only when the player has caught a Pokémon by fishing, but when they encounter any Water-type, or even Bug-type Pokémon. A similar ball, the Dive Ball, exploited the new ability to dive underwater by making Pokémon found "on the ocean floor" more susceptible. Two unique balls are the Luxury Ball and the Premier Ball. Both are colored very differently than other varieties - the norm being a variance on the top half of the ball only, as seen with the Master Ball and Apricorn Balls. The Luxury Ball is almost completely black with what looks like diamonds studded in the top and a gold band in the center, conversely the Premier Ball is completely white with a red band in the center. Neither of these balls are any more or less effective than a regular Poké Ball; while the Luxury Ball is the Hoenn counterpart to Johto's Friend Ball, the Premier Ball has the distinction of always being given away freely.
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl introduced several variations. Most notable are the Dusk Ball and the Heal Ball, which were revealed in pre-release information. The Dusk Ball is twice as effective as an Ultra Ball at catching Pokémon in dark areas such as caves or at night, and the Heal Ball, while no more effective at catching Pokémon than a regular Poké Ball, restores the Pokémon's HP and cures any status conditions. The Quick Ball is more effective at the beginning of the battle with the wild Pokémon. Another unique ball, the Cherish Ball, is not sold, found, or even obtained through normal gameplay. Instead, some Pokémon given out at special events, such as Mew or Celebi, are housed in it. It prevents the Pokémon from being traded in the GTS. It shares the design of a Premier Ball in the sense that it is solidly colored, but in this case it is red. It also has what appears to be small indents in its sides. The Cherish Ball's only noticeable effect in battle is that it releases an array of different colors when it is thrown into battle.
In Pokémon Black and White, the Dream Ball was introduced. It was originally only obtainable via transfers from the Pokémon Dream World feature, which has since been shut down, and by catching a Pokémon in Pokémon Dream Radar and sending them to Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.
In the Japanese version of Pokémon Crystal, the GS Ball (G and S stand for Gold and Silver, the colors of the ball, respectively) is obtainable as a key item. It is obtained after using the mobile phone hook-up feature that was not made available in US versions. A day after it has been delivered to Kurt, he returns it to the player and directs them to a restless Ilex Forest. Once the GS Ball is placed in the forest's shrine, Celebi appears and the player has a chance to capture it. This was made accessible to players in other regions via the Virtual Console release of Pokémon Crystal.
In the television series, Ash obtains the GS Ball from a Pokémon researcher, Professor Ivy in the Orange Islands. He is instructed to deliver the ball to his hometown's own researcher, Professor Oak. The GS Ball is a great puzzle. It cannot be opened or teleported and no-one can tell whether it has a Pokémon inside. After Professor Oak is in turn unable to figure out the GS Ball, Ash journeys to Johto and delivers it to Kurt, the Poké Ball master, in whose care it apparently remains. While the GS Ball appeared to play an important role throughout the series - several random scenes were shown throughout various episodes of Ash studying it, trying to figure out its origin - the GS Ball turned out to be apparently little more than a meaningless plot device; but was supposed to introduce Celebi in the anime. The plot was abandoned in favor of using Celebi for the 4th movie.
Super Smash Bros.
The Poké Ball also appears in the Super Smash Bros. series as an item. When thrown, it releases a random Pokémon that uses an attack which hurts all players except the one who threw it. The Poké Ball itself can be thrown at an opponent to hurt him or her. In Super Smash Bros., Pikachu and Jigglypuff also came out of thrown Poké Balls as a custom entrance. The role is reprised in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but with the addition of new Pokémon and the replacement of older Pokémon (for example, Beedrill are replaced by Unown). Also, two Pokémon can harm the character who released them, namely Electrode and Wobbuffet. Mew and Celebi can appear as well, but it does not attack. Instead it gives a point bonus to the character if points are being used.
Poké Balls also appear in the next game of the series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, using newer Pokémon like Groudon, Deoxys, Piplup and Munchlax. Additionally, Poké Balls are the main arsenal of the new character Pokémon Trainer (who is inspired by the FireRed and LeafGreen incarnation of Red, the main protagonist in many Pokémon games); using the item, he calls upon one of three Pokémon (Squirtle, Ivysaur, or Charizard [who previously appeared in the Super Smash Bros. series as a non-playable Poké Ball Pokémon]) to battle. The Poké Ball also appears as the symbol of Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Pichu, Mewtwo, Lucario and the Pokémon Trainer.
During 1999 and 2000, "Burger King announced the recall of the Poké Balls after it was determined they presented a suffocation hazard. The recall effort included full-page advertisements in USA Today."
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- Nintendo Power. Official Nintendo Pokémon Emerald Version Player's Guide. Nintendo of America Inc., April 2005. ISBN 1930206585 Search this book on .
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