Pokémon Legends: Where Do Poké Balls Come From?

So, you’re almost ready to catch ’em all. You’ve got the Pokédex, your starter companion, a bike, and some revives. There’s nothing standing between 10-year-old you and the entire Pokémon world — except, you know, the way to truly catch them all. That’s where a little red and white sphere comes in.

Poké Balls have long been an iconic staple of this bug catching-inspired series, and they’ve long been a mystery to fans. Where do the monsters go when inside the ball? How do they work, and who designed them? Thankfully, the Pokémon world is full of scientists, legends, and traditions passed from one generation of the very best to the next. And now, the Pokémon Legends: Arceus game will show us an even more in-depth history to the practice of catching and cataloguing all of our favorite colorful creatures.

These monster capture tools are an interesting nut to crack (quite literally), so let’s dive in and discover where Poké Balls really come from.

Johto Origins — Apricorns

While they may seem like modern marvels of technology and electricity, Poké Balls were once made from a regional resource called an Apricorn. First introduced in the Generation 2 games, these are tree-growing fruits native to Johto that come in seven color varieties — white, black, green, pink, blue, red, and yellow. Each color in the games corresponds to a matching ball type that can be created from their husks.

Their outer skins are too tough to eat unprocessed, but the fruit can be hollowed out and fitted with special devices for holding the Pokémon. Special artisans, such as Kurt from Azalea Town, could create these balls for trainers, and at one point in history, almost all trainers exclusively used Apricorn balls.

Poké Ball designs in ancient artwork have also been shown in the anime and films. Statues and stone carvings depict the round devices, and even some other oddly shaped relics were shown to have Pokémon-holding capabilities. About 40 years before the main adventures of Ash Ketchum, trainers could be seen using balls with twist-top canister mechanisms as Apricorns began to fade out for fully mechanical methods of capture.

Apricorn Colors — Corresponding Poké Balls:

  • White — Fast Ball (is more effective on creatures with fast movement speed)
  • Black — Heavy Ball (is more effective on larger, heavier creatures)
  • Blue — Lure Ball (is more effective in fishing encounters)
  • Red — Level Ball (is more likely to succeed the higher the trainer’s Pokémon level is compared to the wild creature)
  • Pink — Love Ball (is more likely to succeed if the wild Pokémon is the opposite gender of the trainer’s active Pokémon)
  • Green — Friend Ball (makes a captured Pokémon more friendly towards the trainer)
  • Yellow — Moon Ball (is more effective on Pokémon that evolve by using a Moon Stone)

Hisuian History and Voltorb’s Design

Evolution is just part of the natural Pokémon world. Whether it’s the discovery of regional variants or the transformation into more powerful forms using items or experience, these beloved creatures are always changing before our eyes. That’s why when the unique design for Hisuian Voltorb was revealed, it further cemented how adaptable the pocket monsters can be.

The Electric type Voltorb has always been known for its signature Poké Ball-like appearance (with its evolution Electrode inverting the design). Now, trainers can see clearly that its outward appearance has been influenced by (or maybe it even inspired) the style of the invaluable capture tools.

In the early age of the Sinnoh region, then called Hisui, Poké Balls were a combination of wood, Apricorn husk, and a firework mechanism that indicated successful capture. As such, these Voltorbs are a combination Electric and Grass typing, reflecting the natural elements of the Poké Ball. Their bottom halves have a wood grain texture to them, and a hole on the top of its head throws seeds, not unlike fireworks. These Voltorbs are known for being friendlier than their modern counterparts, but still cause accidental electrical discharges all the same.

Modern Trainer Tools

Poké Balls eventually developed into the iconic style that everyone recognizes, leaving behind their natural origins in exchange for full technological integration. No longer just the work of artisans, these trainer tools are mass produced by industries in the Pokémon world like the Devon Corporation, Silph Co., and the Kalos Poké Ball Factory. They are widely available at any Poké Mart, and different varieties can be unlocked when trainers achieve a certain degree of experience, noted through gym badge acquisition. The three “basic” varieties are Poké Balls, Great Balls, and Ultra Balls, each increasing in effectiveness.

While the exact properties of the technology are unknown, the act of catching a Pokémon has been displayed as transforming a weakened or non-resistant creature (usually through battle) into a state of energy, which is then stored within the ball. The monsters have a chance to struggle and break free, but if they submit, they will join the trainer’s party. Poké Balls that fail to capture a Pokémon will break in the games, but will return to a trainer for future use in the anime.

These devices are also used to transport and store Pokémon using computers, and a trainer may usually carry no more than six filled balls (with Pokémon inside) in their party at a time. Of course, many fans have debated the ethics of this form of creature capture, but the franchise has frequently assured the comfort of the Pokémon inside the balls.

Gotta Throw ‘Em All

Beyond the standard red and white design, Poké Balls come in dozens of designs, each tailored to unique catching specifications. The core game series features 27 variants in all. The Quick Ball is most effective when used immediately in battle, while the Dusk Ball works best in the darkness of caves and nighttime encounters. A few others, like the Premier Ball, are just vanity symbols — obtaining the ball itself is a challenge, and flaunting it in battle is very impressive. The biomes of the 8 Pokémon regions are so vast and diverse, a whole plethora of capture tools have been created to cover almost every permutation of Pokémon you could encounter.

To learn even more about the most powerful Poké Balls, check out the Top 10 Types of Poké Balls in the Pokémon Games.

These deceptively simple spheres have an incredibly intricate history — and there’s still so much we have yet to learn! When Pokémon Legends: Arceus releases, we’ll get to see more of these training tools in action, informing our modern understanding of Poké Balls in all their forms.

Which Poké Ball style is your favorite? Did you ever craft an Apricorn ball in the early generations? Don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow and tell us in the comments!