Student study shows the most powerful Pokémon companion and how fast you could catch em all

27 February marks the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, the global franchise many may remember from their youth.

With the upcoming release of Pokémon Go for iOS and Android devices later in the year, and the re-release on 27 February of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, the original video game titles released on the Nintendo Game Boy in the late 90s, the franchise is still going strong, entertaining millions of fans across the world.

Natural Sciences student Thomas Codd has examined some of the science behind the titular Pokémon in a number of articles published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

In the Pokémon video games, players must pick their ‘starter’ Pokémon before going out into the world to battle and catch others. In a paper entitled ‘Which is the most offensively powerful starter Pokemon?’ Thomas explores which of the three starter Pokémon in the original games (when fully evolved into Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur) would be the strongest travelling companion. 

By examining their signature moves, the study suggests that Venusaur would be the weakest of the three – given the size of its flower based on its height and multiplying this by the intensity of the sunlight it could absorb, it is theorised that Venusaur could release 194,000J of energy in its solar beam blast.

The second strongest would be Blastoise, who projects high pressure  water from the cannons on its back to create a combined total of 386,000J of energy, beaten severely by Charizard, whose propensity for setting fire to entire battle arenas could make his flamethrower attack have as much as almost 7 trillion joules of energy.

With Charizard at a player’s side, catching all the Pokémon in the world would be a breeze – and another study by Thomas examines how long it would realistically take for someone to live up to the franchise’s slogan and ‘catch ‘em all’ out of the original 150 Pokémon found in the Kanto region.

In order to do this, Thomas compared the geographical size of the Pokémon region of Kanto to the real Kantō in Japan, and then took into consideration how the video games calculate the chance of encountering a ‘wild’ Pokémon based on how much distance a player walks.

In order to catch the Pokémon you can encounter by walking the study suggests that it would require walking 48,471.834km, and that in order for a trainer to catch the 81 Pokémon that must be caught in the wild to ‘catch 'em all’ in the Kanto region – with the remaining 69 being obtained through Pokémon evolution - it would take them 1,822 days – or just under five years.

Thankfully, the video games allow players to achieve this feat far quicker, perhaps explaining Pokémon’s enduring appeal to fans worldwide.