The Pokémon franchise continues to be a smash hit for Nintendo. The idea of capturing, bonding, and battling with little monsters is a fun concept. Many series have attempted to emulate Pokémon’s formula to attain as huge of a following. While some reach levels of notoriety, their popularity is small compared to Pokémon’s. This is a franchise that’s slowly evolving, but crafts enough content to keep fans returning for more.
That said, we’d like to discuss the greatest and most unforgettable Pokémon games that were released over the years. From mainline entries like Pokémon Heartgold & Soulsilver to spin-offs like Pokémon Snap, there’s sure to be a title in here that’ll resonate with you.
Of course, feel free to comment below on your favorite Pokémon game.
Pokémon Black & White 2
Despite being a spiritual reboot of the franchise, the original Pokémon Black & White games contain an engrossing narrative, beautiful sprite-based visuals, and some intriguing Pokémon designs. As with all Pokémon games, those entries attained critical acclaim resulting in Game Freak developing and releasing a sequel to those titles.
Pokémon Black & White 2 takes place two years after the original game’s events. It involves two new protagonists for players to play as. In it, players must collect all eight gym badges, and defeat the Elite Four and Champion. Players will encounter the game’s previous villains Team Plasma several times during their adventure and must thwart their effort to rule the world.
This game boasts as grand of a narrative as the first and features a slew of new and returning characters to excite fans. This game introduces new features, cities, and locales to explore. Although the game introduces a fun side activity called PokéStar Studios to mess with, many recall the game’s Pokemon World Tournament as its best mechanic.
This tournament has you battling gym leaders, villains, and protagonists from Pokémon Red and Blue to this game. It was a stunning showcase and a beautiful tribute to the franchise up to that point. With stellar visuals, fun mechanics, and a well-written narrative, Pokémon Black and White 2 was Game Freak at its best.
Pokémon Stadium (Series)
Despite being a bit dated, the original Pokémon Stadium game blew fans away with its presentation. It gave fans their first taste of what 3D Pokémon battling could look like on a television game. Despite acting as a Pokémon battling simulation title, Pokémon Stadium 1 and 2 offered an experience unlike any other for its time.
The original Pokémon Stadium game included four stadium cups, a Gym Leader Castle mode, and a slew of mini-games to play. That game was compatible with the first generation games Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow versions. With the praise it received from critics, The Pokemon Company eventually churned out a sequel that covered the franchise’s second Pokémon region called Johto.
This game was set in a new town but offers similar modes. As one can expect, the Gym Leaders in Stadium 2 are the Johto Gym Leaders you battled in the Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal versions. The battle format retains the same three-on-three formula. Defeating your rival in this game nets you access to the Kanto Gym Leaders and a battle with Pokémon Champion Red.
Many prefer the minigames in the second entry to the first but both games play and look the same. Give these games a try if you’re looking for a fun N64 Pokémon title where battling’s at the forefront.
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness
Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness are incredible 3D Pokémon titles developed by Genius Sonority. While it borrows some aspects like models and such from the Stadium games, these titles feel grander in scope, storytelling, and visuals. While both have their ups and downs, many adore Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness over Colosseum.
This game features new and familiar characters from the previous title. It involves you stopping evil organizations and trainers who utilize shadow versions of beloved Pokémon. You stop them by snagging their Shadow Pokemon from them. Eventually, you’ll free these Pokémon from their shadow states by bonding with them in and out of battle.
Once they reach a specific point, you’ll be able to purify and free them of their shadowed states. This title boasts incredible replay value, challenge, and dramatic segments. Unfortunately, the game lacks voice acting and online functionality. However, there is some neat connectivity with the Game Boy Advance Pokémon titles. If you’re looking for Pokémon games with a dark plot, excellent soundtrack, and wonderful visuals, check out Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness.
Pokémon Heartgold & Soulsilver
Pokémon Heartgold and Soulsilver are the epitome of Pokémon remakes to many fans. Game Freak revamped what fans loved about the Johto region and added in some modern mechanics to spice things up. This game adapted a similar art style to the 4th generation Pokémon titles Pearl, Diamond, and Platinum with slight tweaks to Pokémon sprite.
Like the original Gold, Silver, and Crystal versions, these games allowed players to visit the Kanto Region upon completing Johto’s gym and Pokémon league challenges. These games included wonderful in-game events that were triggered by special items. Every event felt like a spectacle. The game includes some 3D cutscenes involving the mascot legendaries Ho-oh and Lugia respectively.
Pokémon games wouldn’t be the same without their gimmicks. These games came equipped with a Poké Walker accessory. Think of it as the prehistoric version of Pokémon Go or like those Tamogatchi toys you’d find in stores. You’d store one of your Pokemon in it and interact with them via the device. It was a neat trinket that encouraged exploration. Although these games lay dormant on the Nintendo DS, fans hope Game Freak can deliver remakes on par with these games.
At first glance, Pokémon Snap sounds like a boring game. There isn’t any battling or monster-taming in this game. It’s simply an on-rails photography game where you snap photos of Pokémon. After each level, your photos will be judged by the iconic Pokémon character, Professor Oak. Despite sounding bland, these games give players a new and exciting way to interact with Pokémon.
As you progress, you’ll attain items that’ll allow you to force the Pokémon to perform differently. This helps the game retain its high replay value as there are multiple scenarios for fans to discover in this game. Although you can complete this game in a day, it’s these subtle details that persuade you to revisit Pokémon Snap.
Furthermore, this game features many iconic Pokémon from the mythical Mew to Pokémon’s mascot, Pikachu. The worlds feel lively despite being linear in scope. Although New Pokémon Snap eradicates the original in the visual category, there are many exciting features from the original that aren’t present in the sequel.
Pokémon Puzzle League
Pokémon Puzzle League is Pokémon’s spin on Panel De Pon. This game offers fun match-three gameplay, iconic voice-overs from the Pokémon anime, and some delightful visuals. In this game, players will combat numerous trainers and gym leaders to progress. This is one of the few Pokémon games to include an appearance from Ash Ketchum.
Unlike its predecessors, Pokemon Puzzle League offers a 3D mode alongside its 2D one. In this mode, you’ll be greeted with a cylinder with a width of 18 blocks. The game’s music variety is as impressive as its gameplay. Fans will find themselves humming to the OST, which makes up many of the anime’s iconic music tracks.
With a fun two-player mode, gameplay loop, and decent visuals, Pokémon Puzzle League is a remarkable gem many newcomer Pokémon fans must play.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Fans have begged Game Freak on many occasions to evolve the Pokémon franchise. While they haven’t reached the status fans have been clamoring for, that hasn’t stopped them from trying. While this title doesn’t boast fun online elements, Pokémon Legends Arceus is a lore and catching-centric gem that does something remarkably fresh with the franchise.
It abandons the franchise’s linear approach and gives fans something semi-expansive and enjoyable. This game has players play as time travelers from the Sinnoh region who must assist the people of the Hisui Region in crafting the world’s first Pokédex. The story spirals into something much darker toward the end, but it’s worth going into it blind.
Like Monster Hunter, players will explore various landscapes featuring different Pokémon. You’ll be sneaking, rolling, and soaring your way through these mini areas with the goal of catching Pokémon. Although the title doesn’t have online battling, it features a unique spin on its turn-based battle system via its Agile and Strong Style attacks. For the first time ever, players can get injured by Pokémon too. Fans searching for a refreshing and fun action RPG take on Pokémon should look no further than Legends Arceus.
The Pokémon Company isn’t a stranger to trying new things with the brand. We’ve seen numerous spin-offs from the franchise and each of them involves something exciting and refreshing. Although it feels a like a title lost to time, Pokémon Conquest was an intriguing title with fun tactical-based gameplay.
On that note, Pokémon Conquest leans heavily into mature themes and offers a world rich in history. This game fuses the Nobunaga’s Ambition series and the Pokémon franchise together to create something gritty and colorful. Like other tactical RPGs, this game has you move characters across a grid to attack their foes.
Unlike the Pokémon games, this one only allows your Pokémon to use and know one attack. Their attacks will change when they evolve though. Despite being a Nintendo DS title, this game boasts some exceptional character designs, battle animations, and catchy music. If you’ve ever wondered what a tactical RPG Pokémon title would look like, check out Pokémon Conquest.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is the equivalent to the epic third entries we’d receive from mainline Pokémon games. This game offers Explorers of Time and Darkness fans an enhanced experience with remarkable visuals, a well-written and engaging narrative, and epic boss battles.
Like other Mystery Dungeon games, you’ll be greeted with a questionnaire that’ll help the game understand what Pokemon starter is right for you. You’re given the option to choose your companion Pokémon though. You’ll then awaken on a beach and learn that you were once a human but have become a Pokemon for a weird reason.
Your partner finds you there, and your dungeon-crawling adventure begins. While the dungeon-crawling gameplay can feel like a grind, Explorers of Sky doesn’t hold back with its narrative. Many cite this game’s story as one of the best stories told for the Pokémon brand. It features enough twists and heartache to keep you invested from beginning to end. If you’re hunting for a Pokémon game with a hard-hitting storyline, fun missions, and a well-written cast, check this one out.
Pokémon Platinum Version
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl don’t come close to the exciting endeavors you’d find in the Pokémon Platinum Version. Many Pokémon fans argue this is the definitive way to experience the franchise’s fourth generation. It harbors better 2D visuals, splendid in-game events, and modes, and pays respect to one of Sinnoh’s best legendary creatures.
In Platinum, players embark on a journey with the starter Pokemon they receive from Professor Rowan. This game’s mascot legendary, Giratina plays a larger role in the plot, unlike Diamond and Pearl. It receives a new form (called Origin Forme) and gives players access to its darkened home called the Distortion World.
Although Wi-Fi support for the title no longer exists, the game boasted a fun Wi-fi Plaza area where players would travel to an amusement park-like area to play mini-games. Up to 20 players can compete in this mode. The game introduced some changes to the region’s other rare creatures like Rotom and Shaymin. If you have a Nintendo DS to 3DS lying around, I’d suggest playing this game.
The original Pokemon games are still among the best RPGs you can play today. The 150 different Pokemon, split across both versions, is a solid gaming experiencing with some iconic music and great ideas.
This is the one that started them all and while you could argue Pokemon Yellow should be on this list too, your playable character being given all starter Pokemon negates the idea of finding the best combination of monsters to fight at your disposal. The idea of trading with your friends was new and novel at the time, and Pokemon Blue/Red pulled this off brilliantly. These two games remain a staple RPG experience to this day.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best Pokémon games through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!