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Top 10 In-Game Pokémon Trades

In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.

Pokémon trading in Sword and Shield

Pokémon trading in Sword and Shield

Benefits to Pokémon Trading

Most Pokémon trades occur between players, but several are offered in-game. This was especially useful in earlier generations where Wi-Fi didn't exist yet, letting trainers reap trade benefits even without the internet.

Trading helps fill the Pokédex, triggers certain evolutions, and nets extra experience in battles—which creatures should you always swap for? These are the 10 best NPC trades in Pokémon!

Farfetch'd

Farfetch'd

10. Spearow for Farfetch'd

Location: Vermilion City
Game: Red/Blue

One of the first trades in the entire franchise, this one's useful simply because it's the only way to get Farfetch'd in generation one. Now, Farfetch'd is a pretty bad Pokémon, but he's still needed to complete your Pokédex. Also, Spearow are easily obtained, and Farfetch'd is at least useful early on as an HM slave for Cut and Fly.

Raticate and Alolan Raticate

Raticate and Alolan Raticate

9. Alolan Trades

Location: Varies
Game: Let's Go, Pikachu!/Let's Go, Eevee!

In these games, trades can be repeated and let players swap regular creatures for their Alolan variants, disabling the need for Sun and Moon trades. You'll find the corresponding trainers throughout Kanto's major towns, starting with Cerulean City.

Mr. Mime

Mr. Mime

8. Abra for Mr. Mime

Location: Route 2
Game: Red/Blue

In Yellow version, you'll fork over a Clefairy instead of Abra, but either way, this was your only option for getting Mr. Mime in generation 1 (outside of trading with other players).

And unlike Farfetch'd, Mime is actually pretty useful; he's got an interesting moveset and his Psychic type reigned supreme back before Dark and Steel existed.

Munchlax

Munchlax

7. Cinccino for Munchlax

Location: Undella Town
Game: Black/White

Though not available until later in the game, trading for Munchlax (nicknamed Gorge) is a great deal, as an evolved Snorlax dominates Minccino. Plus, Gorge will arrive holding the Leftovers, one of the best held items that restores a little HP every turn.

Jasmine and Steelix

Jasmine and Steelix

6. Anything for Steelix

Location: Olivine Gynm
Game: HeartGold/SoulSilver

Oddly enough, in the gen 2 remakes, gym leader Jasmine will trade Rusty, her Steelix. He offers a powerful defense tank, and it's easier to attain Steelix this way than trading a Metal Coat-holding Onix.

Plus, Jasmine accepts absolutely anything in return—toss her a Sentret or Hoothoot and Steelix (Rusty) is yours. He also comes with the Soothe Bell, a held item that increases friendship-gain, helpful for certain evolve conditions.

Ditto and Rotom

Ditto and Rotom

5. Ditto for Rotom

Location: Route 15
Game: Black/White

The only way for B/W players to get Rotom in their base game involves trading a Ditto, a paltry fee. He also arrives at level 60 and holding a Max Elixir to boot, an item to restore a move's Power Points.

Rotom's base form is Electric/Ghost, but he'll change Ghost to Fire, Water, Flying, Ice, or Grass depending on what appliance you give him, increasing his stats along the way.

Alolan Golem

Alolan Golem

4. Haunter for Alolan Graveler/Golem

Location: Tapu Village
Game: Sun/Moon

Trades like this excel because you're getting (and giving) a trade-evolving Pokémon; your new Graveler will immediately evolve into Golem, with both registered in your Pokédex.

Sadly, you can't do a reverse trade to also get your Haunter into Gengar, but this still provides a nice non-wifi option to acquire Alolan Golem. Even better, he comes with Rockium Z, which upgrades Rock attacks into Z-moves.

Onix

Onix

3. Bellsprout for Onix

Location: Violet City
Game: Gold/Silver

Getting an Onix super-early in Johto works great since he's strong against the first three gyms (Flying, Bug, and Normal). Additionally, Bellsprout are easily found in the Burned Tower, Onix comes with a Bitter Berry, and he's a strong candidate for the Mud Slap TM you'll get from beating Falkner, the first gym leader.

Machamp

Machamp

2. Cubone for Machoke/Machamp

Location: Underground Path (connecting Cerulean and Vermillion City)
Game: Yellow

In other versions of gen 1, the Underground Path girl only offers a Nidoran in exchange for one of the opposite gender. But in Yellow, she'll fork over a Machoke for Cubone, and Machoke will immediately evolve into Machamp!

That's a great way to obtain a trade-evolving Pokémon in a game without wifi, and Machamp's a fierce addition to your team, bearing great attack and decent defenses.

Jynx

Jynx

1. Poliwhirl for Jynx

Location: Cerulean City
Game: Red/Blue

Jynx is the definition of a glass cannon, with great special attack, special defense, and speed, but awful defense and the frail Ice type. However, this trade is the only way to get her in gen 1, and it' a good time to add Jynx to your team, as her Psychic isn't yet balanced by Dark and Steel. Her Ice attacks also help against the dragons Lance uses, since Fairy wasn't around either.

So, for both Pokédex completion and Psychic exploitation, take this trade whenever possible.

How to Trade Pokémon

Depending on the game you're playing, trades are unlocked at different points, sometimes as late as the endgame. Asking for certain Pokémon usually requires having seen them in your Pokédex, you can't change nicknames, and high-level Pokémon won't obey you without the proper badges.

Still, trades allow for fast grinding thanks to their experience boost, and some games reward you for having multiple Trainer IDs (like the lottery corner in gen 2). But for now, vote for your favorite traded creature and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!

© 2021 Jeremy Gill

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