With every improvement and addition that each new mainline Pokémon entry brings, there are a handful of features that remain unchanged since the launch of the franchise more than 25 years ago: the ability to heal up at a Pokémon Centre, the appearance of the "technology is incredible" guy, and — of course — the option to give your beloved Pocket Monsters nicknames.
During the first few generations of Pokémon, the notion of giving each and every one of your partners its own unique nickname might have seemed reasonably doable. Now that we're heading into the ninth generation of the franchise with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, however, there are near-enough 1000 of the beggars to keep track of, so it got us thinking: Do players still go to the effort of nicknaming them all?
A bunch of writers at Nintendo Life put across their own thoughts on the matter below, and we'd love to hear from you, too. Do you still do it? Have you never done it? Go on, pop your vote in the poll at the bottom of this page and let us know your nicknaming habits — and, perhaps, some choice examples in the comments. We've all had a Pikachu named 'Steve', right? Right!?...
Kate Gray, Staff Writer
I name all my Pokémon, except the ones I know I'm going to throw away — I mean, set free — when I'm doing things like shiny hunting or IV breeding. And I don't do those very often, so pretty much all my Pokémon have names.
When I was a kid, it was a diminutive version of their real names (Chicky for Chikorita) or a description of their form (Birdy for Pidgey). Now that I'm older and way more mature, I tend to name them after foods or objects of a similar colour. It's surprisingly easy to find foods that match the personality or appearance of a Pokémon! Especially if, like me, you favour the cute ones.
I find that it makes things more interesting and personal, because anyone can have a Pikachu, but only I have a Pikachu called Pudding. I can't imagine not giving them names, and I've never understood why Ash didn't bother to name his closest friend something other than "Pikachu". I don't know. It's like having a dog called "Bichon Frise".
Ollie Reynolds, Staff Writer
I've never named a single one of my Pokémon — ever. It wasn't so much a conscious decision either; it's not like I thought to myself "oh no, I'm not doing that, thank you very much". It was more just a case of feeling quite content with the names that had already been given to the Pokémon from Game Freak.
My first Pokémon game was Pokémon Blue, all the way back in 1999 when the first titles launched in the UK. I remember watching the anime series around the same time and I think perhaps I was somewhat aware of the fact that Ash never nicknamed his Pokémon; it was always "Pikachu", "Charmander", "Butterfree", etc. Maybe that contributed to my decision..? I'm not sure.
Either way, I don't name them! And I don't plan on starting anytime soon.
Jim Norman, Staff Writer
While each stable in my playthrough of Breath of the Wild was full of magnificent stallions, each with hand-crafted names like TenseEric, Ham Thing and Shaquille, I have always made a point to never name my Pokémon.
Here’s the thing, I am a man of order. When I was first playing Pokémon Ruby back in the early 2000s I didn’t want any sense of creativity. I wanted all of my little creatures to be exactly as they should be, and that included their names. This has extended all the way through to the ability to put hats and the like on your ’mon in future games. A hat? On a Pokémon? You must think me mad.
I distinctly remember the stress of trading in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. There were certain Pokémon that I really, really wanted for my team, but if the one presented to me had a nickname – no way. They were somehow tainted in my mind’s eye.Maybe this time will be different.
Maybe my time with Tense Eric and the gang will have brought me round to the art of naming. We’ll have to see if inspiration strikes in Paldea.
Gavin Lane, Editor
As little more than a part-time Poké Trainer (I played Blue and Yellow back in the day and then took a two-decade sabbatical until Sword & Shield), I can’t afford to go renaming my Pokémon lest I forget what their actual names are.
Whenever I dip into Pokémon GO for some reason, I’m presented with row upon row of creatures I don't recognise, so naming them 'Tony' or 'grrrtrude' or 'Crockly McGreen' would only lead to confusion. Back in the olden days, I wasn’t averse to renaming Metapod to 'Metapoo', or Pikachu to 'Lecky Mouse', but no – on the whole, I’m not into (re)naming my ‘mons.
Also, I’d hate to be in a position where the only legendary I’ve got to offer some poor trainer hoping to complete their ‘dex is a Zapdos named 'iiiklee3'. We’ve all been on the receiving end of a trade like that. Don't be that guy. *Eastwood grimace*
Alana Hagues, Staff Writer
I’ve been a serial Pokémon nicknamer for over 20+ years, but it didn’t all start from the beginning. Pokémon Yellow remained untainted by my youthful creativity, but Gold & Silver weren’t so lucky.
Enter ‘Croc’, the Totodile, later Feraligatr. One of my favourite Pokémon with a nickname that took maybe less than 30 seconds for little me to come up with. But I loved him, and I loved that name. It captured the simplicity of the hyperactive crocodile so well and embodied the fierceness (and friendliness) of its final form perfectly. This is where it all started. While the first few games were fairly simple – I’d name Pokémon after friends, pets, cartoon characters, etc. – by the time Diamond & Pearl and Black & White came around, Google and I were pros at this. I’d look up inventive adjectives, use translation tools, and synonyms for words like ‘fire’ or ‘clouds’. So you can thank that phase for Inverno the Frosslass.
With Gen 8, I stuck to a theme for every single Pokémon nickname: food. It could be brand names, food types, herbs, drinks, or types of sugar – as long as it was consumable, it was game. Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble (my actual starter) are all named after types of tea (Matcha, Chamomile, and Peppermint), while my Dragapult has one of my favourite nicknames ever – Noodle. It’s a silly, fun name that captures the sneaky side of the Pokémon, but also emphasises how much I adore it.
I know, I think way too much about nicknames, so much so that I can spend 15 minutes coming up with something I’m happy with – especially if I’m going to use it on my team. But it’s part of the fun for me. Who knows how I’ll approach naming my ‘mons in Scarlet & Violet!