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A walking Pokémon will follow behind its Trainer much like partner Trainers do, and can be interacted with if the player turns back and talks to them.
In the games
In Pokémon Yellow, when the player runs into Professor Oak at the entrance of Pallet Town, a wild Pikachu appears and attacks Oak, and Oak is forced to capture it to keep the player out of danger. Back in the lab, Blue will obtain an Eevee, the Pokémon originally intended for the player. Professor Oak will then give the player the Pikachu he caught. Pikachu refuses to stay in its Poké Ball and insists on following the player around.
By turning around and talking to the Pikachu, the player can learn how it feels and thinks about the player. At the beginning of the game, Pikachu is unhappy to be stuck with the player as a Trainer. By using it in lots of battles and keeping it healthy, however, it will change its attitude towards the player. Pikachu displays a variety of expressions, from anger to shock to fear to love, as it reacts to the player and its surroundings. If Pikachu is traded to another game, evolved, and traded back, it will no longer follow the player.
Pikachu has many expressions, and some events will trigger some expressions. For example, when it first meets the player, Pikachu is not happy to see the player, and will sometimes turn its back towards them. If the player decides to speak to Pikachu, a small image of Pikachu's current emotion will pop up. The image also shows how much the Pikachu likes the player. Further on in the game, Pikachu will begin to like the player, and smile at them. When Pikachu enters the Pokémon Fan Club, it will fall in love with a Clefairy, changing its expression again. When first going in to the Sea Cottage, Bill was experimenting with his cellular teleportation device when he was accidentally turned into a Clefairy, Pikachu will run to him and exchange confused looks. After he is rescued, and transported back to his original self, Pikachu will have a look of shock. Pikachu will also change its expression when it is inflicted with a status condition, such as poison, where Pikachu will feel sick, or under sleep conditions, where Pikachu will be asleep. In Pewter City's Pokémon Center, there is a Jigglypuff that will sing a lullaby if talked to, and Pikachu will fall asleep and not move unless awakened by the player. The center's nurse will also comment on Pikachu's sleep if talked to. When entering the Pokémon Tower, Pikachu will feel scared and shudder fearfully. If the player uses a fishing rod, then checks Pikachu, it will appear with a bucket over its head. Besides showing Pikachu's emotions and happiness, the image can also show several other 'events' such as when Pikachu learns Thunderbolt, where it will shock the player.
If the player character jumps over a ledge and leaves Pikachu above it for a short while, Pikachu will start to dance.
Amity Square, located on the north side of Hearthome City in Sinnoh, allows several select Pokémon to follow the player around within its borders. An expansion on the concept introduced in Yellow, Amity Square allows the player's Pokémon to pick up accessories for Super Contests and Berries, which vary depending on which Pokémon is allowed in.
Only 11 of the 493 Pokémon are allowed into Amity Square in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: Pikachu, Clefairy, Jigglypuff, Psyduck, Torchic, Shroomish, Skitty, Pachirisu, Drifloon, Buneary, and Happiny. These Pokémon typically have some appearance elsewhere in Sinnoh, or are regarded as popular Pokémon in the franchise; most have somewhat of a mascot status due to appearing under the ownership of a main character of the anime.
In Pokémon Platinum, nine additional Pokémon are allowed into Amity Square: the Sinnoh region's starter Pokémon and their evolutions. In addition, Amity Square itself has been redesigned and expanded.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Walking Pokémon return to their former prominence in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, being able to walk with players throughout the entire game, from getting their starter Pokémon to battling Red on Mt. Silver.
Though the fact that the starter Pokémon is the first Pokémon that this is allowed for mimics Pokémon Yellow in a way, unlike Yellow, the starter is not the only one able to follow, and any Pokémon captured by the player can be in this position-- the only requirement is that it is first in the party.
If a walking Pokémon knows a move that can be used on the field, such as Cut or Headbutt, and the correct badge has been earned (for HM moves), it will be shown to use the move in the overworld when the player comes upon its respective obstacle. When sent into battle, like Yellow's Pikachu, it will appear from the side rather than from a Poké Ball. Also, when the walking Pokémon faints, the next Pokémon in the party takes its place as the walking Pokémon.
There are few instances wherein the first Pokémon in the party will not follow players. For example, riding a bicycle will send the Pokémon back to its Poké Ball. This will also cause it to be sent out from its Poké Ball when a battle begins, instead of just appearing from the side. Certain locations, such as the Global Terminal, also prohibit the walking Pokémon from following players. Large Pokémon, such as Wailord, will be sent back to their Poké Balls as well when entering most buildings, as they are too large.
Much like in other games, it is possible to interact with the Pokémon. Checking the Pokémon will cause a small image of its current mood to pop up, as in Yellow. Unlike in Yellow, however, the mood is restricted to the thought bubble above the Pokémon's head. The walking Pokémon will also sometimes interact with the overworld, such as an event Pichu becoming interested in a wild Pichu from the past in Ilex Forest, or an event Arceus allowing players to obtain a member of the dragon trio at level 1. Pokémon will additionally do as they did in Amity Square and occasionally pick up items and accessories, though it is unknown what items can be found this way or if these items vary by species. In some cases, the Pokémon will refuse to hand over the item it has picked up, and will remain angry at the player for a while after trying to take it.
Sometimes, the walking Pokémon will find a Shiny Leaf, a very rare item, while they walk on certain routes. When it is found by a Pokémon, it will have no apparent presence other than in that Pokémon's status screen. Once five Shiny Leaves are found, Lyra/Ethan will make a Leaf Crown out of the Shiny Leaves.
In the anime
Several Pokémon walk with their Trainers outside of their Poké Ball in the anime, the most obvious of which is Ash's Pikachu. On Ash's first day as a Trainer, Pikachu adamantly refused to go back into its Poké Ball after being released from it in Professor Oak's lab, and afterward revealed to Ash that it did not like being inside the ball. Though Ash eventually insisted it go inside for protection as he defended them both from the angry flock of Spearow he encountered, Pikachu still did not, and has not been inside of its, or any, Poké Ball since then, with the exception of Mewtwo Strikes Back, where it was captured by Mewtwo.
Misty's Togepi is another Pokémon in the anime famous for never being recalled to a Poké Ball, and even more notably, having never been seen to be in a Poké Ball at all. Ash found it as an egg in Grandpa Canyon in Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon, and it was cared for by Brock until it was stolen by Team Rocket, subsequently hatching in Misty's arms. It served as a companion to Pikachu throughout the series from its debut until Misty's departure, and was eventually released by Misty in A Togepi Mirage!. Some do not count it as a walking Pokémon due to the fact that it never had any Poké Ball, even though it acted as one.
Like Pikachu, Dawn's Piplup has also become a walking Pokémon, though it was initially completely fine with staying inside at the beginning of the Diamond & Pearl series, and has not indicated that it has ever had a problem with it, unlike Pikachu. Since Journey To The Unown!, Dawn usually carries it around in her arms.
Several of Team Rocket's Pokémon travel with them out of their Poké Ball. Much like Ash's Pikachu, Meowth does not stay inside a Poké Ball, and it is never mentioned if he was ever captured by either member of Team Rocket he travels with. Jessie's Wobbuffet emerges from its Poké Ball frequently, without its Trainer's asking, and often at inappropriate times. Wobbuffet is thus something of a fourth team member.
- Most of the walking Pokémon in the anime have not evolved and also refuse to do so. The only exception is Misty's Togetic, although it was released soon after.