The Pokémon trading card game is one of the most important pillars of the media franchise, yet it’s rarely been adapted for the video gaming crowd. In fact, before the free-to-play Pokémon TCG Online launched in 2011, the Pokémon series had only one other trading card title: Pokémon Trading Card Game on Game Boy Color.
At least, that’s what Western players may believe. There was actually another card-based Pokémon game on Game Boy Color, one that introduced a major feature to the franchise despite never leaving Japan. The debut episode of Region Locked, a new video series from Did You Know Gaming, explores 2001’s Japan-only Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR; check that out above.
There are differences that fans of the first TCG title on Game Boy will recognize, like more detailed gym locations, a Mystery Gift-like system that gave players random cards and minigames to unlock new cards. But players of the mainline role-playing games will notice another mechanic that carried over to GB2, and which Region Locked says made its debut in Pokémon Trading Card Game. The hero has the ability to run when the player holds down the B button, making travel far less taxing than the slow walk of the previous Pokémon games.
Running would next appear in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, where stateside fans got to experience Pokémon’s version of fast travel for the first time. Every Pokémon RPG has allowed players to run around the world since then, and it's the Trading Card Game series on Game Boy that we have to thank for it all.
As for why the sequel never came to the West, Region Locked points out that GB2 launched right after the Game Boy Advance. Selling a game optimized for old hardware when its better successor was at retail apparently wasn't worth the effort, and the game remains a Japanese exclusive.
With so many Pokémon spinoffs out there, it’s hard to keep track of which ones introduced which features. It’s nice that Region Locked shows us where to pay respects, especially during the series’ 20th anniversary year.