If there’s any series that’s beloved by gamers of all ages, it’s definitely Pokemon! Whether you’re a long-time fan who’s played since the Game Boy days or a casual Pokemon GO player, it’s hard keeping up with the ever-growing list of Pokemon games. From main series titles to unique spinoffs, take a walk down memory lane as we run through the best Pokemon games of all time!
Best Original Pokemon games
1. Pokemon Red and Blue
We can’t talk about the best Pokemon games of all time without mentioning Red and Blue’s starting Pokemon! While the Pokemon games first debuted with Red and Green in 1996, it wasn’t until 1998 when international audiences experienced the Kanto region! For many Game Boy owners, this was their first foray into Pokemon’s core gameplay of capturing and training Pokemon.
Capitalising on the explosive success of the first title, the developers released Pokemon Yellow — a director’s cut of Pokemon Red and Blue. This improved version gave players direct access to everyone’s favourite yellow mouse Pikachu.
Check out the updated versions of Pokemon Red and Blue for yourself with Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen (available on showbigeyes)! Besides improved graphics, the Sevii Islands were introduced to let players capture Johto-region Pokemon and further build upon their existing collection.
2. Pokemon Gold and Silver
Expanding upon the wildly successful formula of Red and Blue, Pokemon Gold and Silver implemented a day and night cycle. This impacted the types of Pokemon you could encounter in the wild. Additionally, breeding was introduced, where leaving compatible Pokemon at Daycares will present you with an egg! This egg will then hatch once you take enough steps in-game.
Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver (available on LeHyun) are largely regarded as one of the best Pokemon games because of their vast post-game content. After overcoming the Johto region, you’re allowed to return to Kanto! Perched atop Mt. Silver, the original protagonist from Pokemon Red and Blue, challenges players to one final battle for the title of Kanto Champion. The best part is that HeartGold and SoulSilver render all this with upgraded Nintendo DS graphics.
3. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire
Attempting to outmatch Pokemon Gold and Silver was definitely a challenge for Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire but they sure succeeded! Besides adding two-on-two Double Battles and replacing titular villains Team Rocket with Team Magma and Aqua, Ruby and Sapphire complemented the “Eight Gyms, Elite Four” journey with Pokemon Contests. Instead of battling prowess, Pokemon were judged on their condition and how appealing their moves were.
To make sure nobody misses out on experiencing the Hoenn region in stereoscopic 3D, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (both available on PLAYe) were introduced to Nintendo 3DS owners and incorporated many of the features present in later titles. These include one-versus-five Horde Encounters, Super Secret Bases and Mega Evolutions!
4. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl’s (available on LeHyun) importance in forming the foundations of the best Pokemon games today cannot be understated! Ditching the limitations of physical link cables, Diamond and Pearl allowed players to take battles and trades online by introducing the DS’s native Wi-Fi support.
The Sinnoh region’s varied terrain also deserves praise — it drew inspiration from Hokkaido and included memorable locations like Snowpoint City and Spear Pillar.
5. Pokemon Black / White
Known as the reboot, Pokemon Black (available on Playtec Asia) and White sought to recreate the magic of Red and Blue by introducing an entirely new cast of 156 Pokemon! Instead of relying on nostalgia, each encounter felt fresh because you’ll come across unfamiliar Pokemon. Furthermore, Game Freak animated sprites so you didn’t have to stare at static images throughout Pokemon battles.
Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 were subsequently released a year after as direct and improved sequels to the original. Adding a plethora of new activities and a larger map, you’ll be hard pressed to find better candidates for best Pokemon games!
6. Pokemon X / Y
Making the jump to the Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon X and Y (available on G. Shop) used cel-shaded modelling to aesthetically overhaul the entire games’ look and feel! As the first stereoscopic 3D Pokemon iteration, players could truly experience Blastoise’s ferocity and Pikachu’s cuteness in full 3D glory. The reworked Player Search System also allowed for seamless interactions with other players as you’re spared the inconvenience of going through menus just to trade or battle online.
7. Pokemon Sun / Moon
Marking the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon series, Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon (both available on War Games) scraps the familiar gym battles format. Rather, the Hawaii-inspired Alola region tasks players with venturing out to four major islands and overcoming the various unique trials! From item hunts to conquering Totem Pokemon, Sun and Moon effectively deliver an engaging format that’s a breath of fresh air.
It also helps that Alola is brimming with character! You can’t help but fall in love with the region and claim Sun and Moon as the best Pokemon games when comparing game atmosphere and region design.
If you’re looking to experience the Alola region at its finest, look no further than Pokemon Ultra Sun And Ultra Moon (available on PLAYe)! Introducing the highly addictive Mantine Surf minigame and additional side quests, this is the definitive version of the Sun and Moon series and a fitting swan song for the 3DS system.
8. Pokemon Sword / Shield
As the first main series title to appear on the Switch, Pokemon Sword and Shield (available on techasia) has plenty of hype to live up to! Set to release in November 2019, one of the key features of the game is Max Raid Battles — where you’ll get to team up with three players to take on a wild giant Pokemon. Expect plenty of strategising as you attempt to conquer the powered-up Dynamax Pokemon!
With such changes and an upgraded graphics engine from the Switch, it’s no wonder many expect Sword and Shield to be the best Pokemon games to date.
Best spinoff Pokemon games
9. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series
Ever wanted to play as Pokemon instead? The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series lets you explore randomly generated dungeons while fighting hostile Pokemon in chess-like combat. Instead of gym battles, gameplay revolves around accepting quests and stocking up on supplies at a main hub before heading into an unknown dungeon to explore and battle Pokemon.
Fans love the adventure and mystery involved each time they step foot into a new area as no two expeditions are the same! Check it out for yourself with Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (available on PLAYe).
10. Pokken Tournament series
If you’ve ever wanted your Pokemon battles to be more than issuing commands and waiting for the moves to land, this is the game for you! Initially created as an arcade game, the Pokken Tournament series puts an interesting twist to the tactical arena combat that we’ve grown accustomed to.
As a 3D fighting game that draws heavily from the Tekken series, Pokken Tournament tests your reflexes and duelling know-how in intense one-on-one settings. Snag exclusive characters when you buy the updated Switch version, Pokken Tournament DX (available on PeppKouri)!
11. Pokemon Trading Card Game
Ask any early noughties student how they spent their allowance and odds are they spent it collecting Pokemon cards! Entering the strategic card game market in 1996, Pokemon trading card games are still incredibly popular to this day — with close to 100 unique card sets released. Essentially, Pokemon card battles let players assume the role of trainers as they battle others using pre-made Pokemon card decks! Find out how to play below!
12. Pokemon GO
Taking the world by storm when first released in 2016, Pokemon GO shattered virtual boundaries and was en route to being one of the best Pokemon games by utilising augmented reality! Unlike other titles, you don’t battle wild Pokemon to capture them in Pokemon GO. Rather, the game tasks you with tossing a Poke Ball at said wild Pokemon, with Poke Ball type and throwing technique determining your success.
The game also encourages player interaction since you have to walk about in real life to move your avatar and interact with out-of-reach Pokemon. Nothing quite matched the frenzy during Pokemon GO’s first few weeks of launching as PokeStops were flooded with players who sought to expand their virtual collection.
Looking to gift your friend one of the best Pokemon games? Secure your copy today from our range of Nintendo Switch games and Nintendo 3DS and 2DS games. Alternatively, if you’re looking for more game recommendations, make sure to read our list covering the best Nintendo Switch party games or our rundown of the best games in 2018!