For over 25 years, developer Game Freak has continuously reinvented the Pokémon franchise to captivate both brand-new trainers and seasoned masters. These adorable (and sometimes scary) little monsters have a way of hooking players with their charm and the quest to catch them all. With a vast library of Pokémon games to choose from, including main series titles, remakes, and spinoffs, it’s tough to determine which ones are the best. We’ve categorized and ranked them for you.
Main Series Titles: The Cream of the Crop
1. Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal (generation 2)
Starter Pokémon: Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile
Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced 100 new Pokémon, including the beloved trio of starters in the franchise. Generation two expanded on the original games, incorporating a day/night cycle that added depth to gameplay. The addition of the Kanto region, 16 gym leaders, and dual types made Gold and Silver the deepest and longest Pokémon games to date. With stunning legendary birds like Lugia and Ho-Oh, plus the roaming legendary dog Pokémon, generation two remains a fan favorite.
2. Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow (gen 1)
Starter Pokémon (Blue/Red): Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur
Starter Pokémon (Yellow): Pikachu
Generation one holds a special place in the hearts of Pokémon fans. These games, with their streamlined identity and original 151 Pokémon, sparked our love for the franchise. From choosing our first starter Pokémon to battling the Elite Four, Red and Blue felt right. Pokémon Yellow, with its full-color presentation and Pikachu by our side, made us truly feel like Ash on a journey to catch ’em all.
3. Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (gen 3)
Starter Pokémon: Treecko, Torchic, Mudkip
Generation three introduced natures, EV systems, and IV systems, adding complexity to team building. Though the 135 new Pokémon couldn’t match gen two, Ruby and Sapphire offered a captivating island region to explore. With stunning remakes like Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire available on Nintendo 3DS, gen three remains a solid choice for Pokémon adventurers.
4. Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Starter Pokémon: Rowlet, Cyndaquil, Oshawott
While some debate whether Pokemon Legends: Arceus is an official mainline title, no one can deny its ambition and fresh take on the series. With bold changes to the traditional formula and an open-world environment reminiscent of Breath of the Wild, this game sets the stage for the future of Pokémon. Despite the technical limitations of the Nintendo Switch, the Pokédex system and exceptional battles make this entry unmissable.
5. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet (gen 9)
Starter Pokémon: Sprigatito, Fuecoco, Quaxly
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet could have ranked higher if not for some bugs and graphical glitches. Despite these issues, the games offer an enjoyable open-world experience with unprecedented freedom. The Paldea region’s refreshing approach and a diverse collection of monsters make it one of the most enjoyable Pokémon games in recent years. However, the technical problems raise concerns about Game Freak’s development practices.
6. Pokémon Sword and Shield (gen 8)
Starter Pokémon: Grookey, Scorbunny, Sobble
As the first mainline Pokémon games on the Nintendo Switch, Sword and Shield fulfilled the long-held dream of a fully 3D Pokémon adventure on a home console. The British-themed Galar region offers a mix of open-world exploration and traditional pathways. With the addition of the Dynamax system and the Wild Area, Sword and Shield provide hours of captivating gameplay. However, the exclusion of certain Pokémon is a downside for completionists.
7. Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon (gen 7)
Starter Pokémon: Rowlet, Litten, Popplio
Sun and Moon, along with the enhanced Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon versions, took a different approach to the standard Pokémon formula. Set in the Alola region, players faced island trials instead of gym battles. The games introduced fascinating new Pokémon, Alolan forms of original Pokémon, and engaging mechanics such as Z-Moves and Ultra Beasts. The addition of a Pokémon Snap-style mini-game made Sun and Moon one of the best 3DS games available.
8. Pokémon X/Y (gen 6)
Starter Pokémon: Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie
Pokémon X and Y marked the series’ first foray into the 3D world. With a new camera perspective and the France-inspired Kalos region, X and Y offered a fresh experience. Although the storyline was somewhat disappointing, the enhanced visuals and introduction of Mega Evolutions made battles more exciting. While it lacked innovation, Pokémon X and Y delivered a solid Pokémon adventure.
9. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (gen 4)
Starter Pokémon: Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup
Generation four served as an important stepping stone in the evolution of Pokémon. The improved graphics on the Nintendo DS and online trading and battling capabilities brought the global Pokémon community together. Generation four was technologically innovative, but it didn’t leave a lasting impact compared to other periods in the franchise.
10. Pokémon White/Black and White/Black 2 (gen 5)
Starter Pokémon: Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott
Generation five stands out for its direct sequel concept, with Black 2 and White 2 launching a year after the original games. While these sequels introduced a few new areas and Pokémon, they lacked substantial innovation. Generation five still offers an enjoyable Pokémon experience, but it pales in comparison to other generations.
Remakes: Honoring the Classics
When you have a winning formula, it’s hard to resist revisiting it. Pokémon remakes offer improved versions of beloved classics, often with additional features and compatibility with the latest main series games.
1. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver (gen 4)
Starter Pokémon: Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile
HeartGold and SoulSilver are enhanced versions of the original Gold and Silver games, released to celebrate their 10th anniversary. These remakes preserve the essence of the originals while offering new features. Players can have their Pokémon follow them in the overworld, similar to Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow. Additionally, new mini-games like the Pokéathlon and the inclusion of the original 8-bit music from Gold and Silver enhance the nostalgic experience.
2. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (gen 3 remake)
Starters: Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur
FireRed and LeafGreen, the first Game Freak remakes, bring the original Red and Blue games to the third generation of Pokémon. These faithful recreations of the Kanto region include improvements such as the Sevii Islands, where players can encounter Pokémon from the Johto region. The ability to trade with Ruby and Sapphire players adds an extra layer of excitement.
3. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (gen 6)
Starters: Treecko, Torchic, Mudkip
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are faithful remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire games, enhanced with features from later generations. The games bring back popular mechanics like Mega Evolution and incorporate elements from Pokémon X and Y. With the addition of the Grand Underground and opportunities to catch legendary Pokémon from previous generations, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire offer a refreshing experience for fans of the Hoenn region.
4. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
Starters: Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup
The long-awaited remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl finally arrived in 2021. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl faithfully recreate the original games while adding updated gameplay, enhanced visuals, and expanded endgame content. Trainers can explore the expanded Grand Underground, battle various Pokémon, and acquire new Pokémon to fill their Pokédex. While the linear path and lack of challenge may deter veteran players, the remakes stay true to the originals.
5. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon (gen 7)
Starters: Rowlet, Litten, Popplio
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon enhance the versions of the original Sun and Moon games, offering additional features and an expanded story. While the games didn’t deviate significantly from the originals, they introduced new mechanics like Ultra Beasts, legendary Pokémon forms, and various mini-games. The improved Alola region and engaging gameplay make Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon enjoyable for both new and experienced players.
Spin-Off Games: Pokémon’s Unique Adventures
Beyond the mainline games, Pokémon has ventured into various spin-offs that offer different gameplay experiences. While some miss the mark, others shine as excellent Pokémon experiences.
1. New Pokémon Snap
New Pokémon Snap is a delightful blend of amusement park ride and puzzle game. As a Pokémon photographer, you embark on a captivating journey, capturing pictures of Pokémon in their natural habitats. The game’s unique mechanics, such as luring and timing, ensure that each shot is perfect. With hidden pathways, increasing Pokémon comfort, and charming visuals, New Pokémon Snap provides a relaxing and enchanting experience.
2. Pokémon Stadium
Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 brought our favorite Pokémon to life in glorious 3D battles. With the ability to use your own Pokémon from the Game Boy games, Stadium provided an immersive and nostalgic experience. The multiplayer mode and various challenges made battles with friends unforgettable.
3. Pokémon Conquest
Pokémon Conquest on the Nintendo DS combined the Pokémon world with tactical gameplay. Set in the Ransei region, the game offered a unique story featuring warlords and factions. While simpler than other tactics games, Pokémon Conquest’s charm and Pokémon-inspired mechanics made it an enjoyable experience.
4. Pokémon TCG Online
Pokémon’s trading card game has evolved into a deep and engaging experience. Pokémon TCG Online brings the tabletop game to life with digital versions of the latest expansions. With a sleek interface and the ability to redeem physical cards digitally, Pokémon TCG Online is a must-play for trading card enthusiasts.
5. Pokémon Snap
Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo 64 brought us a unique on-rails shooter experience. Instead of battling, players focused on taking candid shots of Pokémon in their natural habitats. Capturing the perfect photo was a joy, and the game’s charm and creativity left a lasting impression.
6. Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go took the world by storm, allowing players to become real-life Pokémon trainers. Using augmented reality technology, Pokémon appeared in the real world, encouraging exploration and social interaction. With its massive player count and immersive gameplay, Pokémon Go revolutionized the way we experience Pokémon.
7. Pokémon Unite
Pokémon Unite combines the world of Pokémon with the popular MOBA genre. Players control customizable trainers and battle in five-on-five matches using beloved Pokémon. Combining classic moves, evolutions, and adorable outfits, Pokémon Unite offers a unique and enjoyable battle experience.
8. Pokémon: Let’s Go
Pokémon: Let’s Go for Nintendo Switch is a faithful remake of Pokémon Yellow with a few twists. While the mainline structure remains intact, catching Pokémon is simplified, inspired by Pokémon Go’s mechanics. The game blends elements of traditional Pokémon games with the mobile experience, making it accessible and enjoyable for all players.
9. Pokémon Puzzle League
Pokémon Puzzle League, a Tetris Attack-inspired game, provides addictive and challenging gameplay. The game pits players against each other in a puzzle battle, utilizing Pokémon-themed elements. With various characters and nostalgia-inducing gameplay, Pokémon Puzzle League is a fun spin-off that enhances the Pokémon experience.
10. Pokémon Pinball
Pokémon Pinball for Game Boy Color delivers an addictive experience with its unique twist on classic pinball gameplay. Catching Pokémon by hitting them with the ball adds excitement, and the game’s additional features, like the rumble feature, offer a novel experience.
11. Pokémon Café Mix
Pokémon Café Mix is a lighthearted puzzle game where players complete puzzles to prepare Pokémon-themed food and drinks in their café. The game’s easy-to-understand mechanics and charming visuals make it an enjoyable experience. Pokémon fans on the go will appreciate this fun and cute game.
12. Pokken Tournament DX
Pokken Tournament DX is a fighting game that merges Pokémon powers with traditional melee combat. With its 3D and 2D shifting perspectives and a blend of accessibility and depth, Pokken Tournament DX appeals to Pokémon fans and fighting game enthusiasts. The online multiplayer mode is a highlight for competitive battles.
13. Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu offers a unique adventure within the Pokémon franchise. As Tim Goodman, players team up with a Pikachu that they can somehow understand. Together, they search for Tim’s missing father and uncover the secrets of the Pokémon Comprehensive Laboratory. With its powerful narrative and captivating gameplay, Detective Pikachu provides an engaging experience.
Remember, the ranking of Pokémon games is subjective, and everyone has their own favorites. Whether you enjoy the main series titles, remakes, or spin-offs, the Pokémon universe offers a variety of experiences to cater to different tastes. So grab your Poké Ball and embark on your own Pokémon adventure!
For more information on Pokémon games, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc.