A route, in the Pokémon series, is one of the many different areas the player may travel. In the Anime each route seems to be, as they always are in real life, much much longer. There are several different types of route, some with a grassy terrain, some in constant sandstorm or rain, some with caves at the start and/or end, and most others are completely submerged, called Sea Routes. Sometimes routes will be ill be needed to clear them. You might need a HM to cross.
Sea routes usually contain many obstacles, including Waterfalls (HM Waterfall needed), Whirlpools (Gen 2, HM Whirlpool needed) or perhaps even areas where you perhaps in using HM Dive can be found. In Generation III, the games Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald, a man named Mr. Briney will offer rides in his boat to Dewford Town and Slateport City until he/she badge from his/her father, his house is located on Route 104.
Many routes contain Trainers who may or may not want to battle the player. Sometimes they can be avoided, sometimes by quickly walking in front of the trainer when they change direction or walking behind the trainer. The weather condition of the route may affect the battle, such as Sandstorms eating away the pokémon's HP or fog lowering the pokémon's accuracy. These trainers could be moving. Grass with Pokémon in is also found in a lot of non-aquatic routes.
On routes pokéballs can be found, usually containing items but also (In the case of New Mauville) voltorb and other pokémon. Hidden items (The Itemfinder key item or pokétch app is used for this) which are only found on one tile, hidden, are also located. Rocks may have items in, so check them.
On a route, many different things may block the players path disabling them to go any further. To get rid of these things, sometimes a HM must be used (For trees, and boulders, and sometimes crumbled rocks) or on water routes, Waterfalls or Whirlpools. Trainers may need to be battled. Puzzles may need to be solved.
Sometimes a group of trainers battling, or some news reporters standing, or anyone else may temporary block access to the route. These will be gone by the time something is done in the game to trigger an event. In places such as Sky Pillar or caves bikes will be needed to cross a crumbling floor, or Bikes will be needed to do something like climb a slope. Bikes can usually be bought in the game quite early.
Routes are normally connected to a cave, another route or town/city at the end.
Routes are normally named "Route <NUMBER>", where the number is the number of the route. The routes are as follows; 1 through 25 (and 26 through 28 as well in Generation II and Generation IV) are in the Kanto region, routes numbered 29 through 46 (and 47 through 48 as well in Generation IV) are in Johto, routes numbered 101 through 134 are in Hoenn and routes numbered 201 through 230 are in Sinnoh.
This means that there are, if not over, 230 routes in all four generations. More routes are most likely to come in the fifth generation.
Sometimes routes are named, most of the time they are a tunnel or short cave, with a proper name. Named roads such as Diglett's Cave, Ilex Forest, and Union Cave classify as a route. These routes are still, like normal, full of wild pokémon and trainers.
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