Top 10 Pokémon Games [Best Recommendations]

Since the late ‘90’s, the little pocket monsters called Pokémon have continued to grow in popularity. What once began as 151 creatures of one region has now expanded to over 700 unique creatures in several different regions to try and catch them all.

With over 120 Pokémon games released to date, it can be difficult to decide which games are worth your time – just as difficult as deciding which starter Pokémon to pick! While we may not be able to help you choose your starter, we here at Honey’s Anime think we can help you narrow down which Pokémon games are the best.

We’ll be picking games based on their impact on the Pokémon franchise, as well as the mechanics they implemented that made the series better. Since there are so many games with little variations, we also decided to pair Pokémon games together that were released together (i.e., Silver/Gold/Crystal, Red/Blue, etc.). We also decided to include re-releases with their older counterparts. Even though games like HeartGold and SoulSilver had different mechanics than Gold/Silver, the newer games were essentially just improvements that these older games needed for new gaming systems. With these limits in mind, here are the Pokémon games we believe are the very best (like no one ever was)!

10. Pokken Tournament (Pokken)

  • System: Wii U, Arcade
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment, The Pokémon Company
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment, The Pokémon Company
  • Release Dates: July 15th, 2015 JP; Mar. 18th, 2016 worldwide

Pokken Tournament is a game collaboration between the Pokémon series and Bandai Namco’s Tekken games. The resulting video game is an interesting twist on the traditional approach to Pokémon battles, with the competitors behaving more like fighters rather than using strategy or type advantage. Pokken Tournament also opens up another option for competitive Pokémon players, with the player vs. player appeal drawing in the opportunity for eSports. The game features a blend of action-based fighting and a variety of special moves, such as Mega Evolutions, unique to the Pokémon universe.

With Pokken Tournament DX recently released for the Nintendo Switch, it is clear this game is a successful combination of two popular game mechanics. Pokken Tournament was a breath of fresh air for both franchises. Even though there have been other battling games like Pokémon Stadium before, Pokken Tournament gave an opportunity for players to really control their Pokémon like never before in a hard-style fighting game. The competitive element is still relatively new – but you can be sure this game will continue to draw people in!


9. Pokémon Sun/Moon

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Developer: The Pokémon Company
  • Release Dates: Nov. 18th, 2016 JP and NA; Nov. 23rd, 2016 EU

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are the two newest games to join the franchise, adding to the already extensive group of pocket monsters available with an island-themed adventure. While some players were disappointed with these games overall, with their easier level of difficulty and lack of post-plot content, Sun and Moon were mostly well-received.

Regardless of your personal opinion of the games, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon do offer a few new changes that deliver enhanced gameplay. Players went through trials rather than facing gyms and gym leaders. Mega Evolutions were replaced with the Z Crystal moves, which allowed for new consideration in competitive battling as well. Several old designs of Pokémon were reworked in specific Alolan forms that also changed the creatures’ typing, giving new viability to overlooked Pokémon like Muk and Exeggutor. With Sun/Moon, creativity certainly played a big part, and while the games didn’t shine in every aspect, their numerous attempts to adapt were exactly what the Pokémon franchise needed.


8. Pokémon Black/White

  • System: Nintendo DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak, Creatures Inc.
  • Developer: The Pokémon Company, Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Sep. 18th, 2010 JP; Mar. 6th, 2011 NA

When Pokémon Black and Pokémon White came out, several older features found in previous games were returned to the series, such as the day/night cycle. With a new generation of Pokémon to discover, for the first time, players were not allowed to unlock older generations of pocket monsters until they had already defeated the game. It was precisely this feature which gave the Pokémon of Black/White a chance to be considered fully on their own.

Along with improved graphics, Pokémon Black and Pokémon White added a new function called the “Dream World,” where your favorite Pokémon could be sent to find items and meet other Pokémon. In addition, Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2 were the first remake games that were actually sequels to the originals, with a brand new story that took place two years after the events of the first.

Even though Black/White are largely forgotten about in the light of other, more exciting games, the changes that they made for the franchise paved the way for the future of Pokémon. While they may not see much support from fans nowadays, Black/White, and consequently Black 2/White 2, deserve their place on this list.


7. Pokémon Snap

  • System: Nintendo 64, Wii, WiiU
  • Publisher: HAL Laboratory, Pax Softnica
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Mar. 21st, 1999 JP; Jun. 30th, 1999 NA

Nintendo’s Pokémon Snap was a unique perspective on the phrase “Gotta catch ‘em all!” Instead of players hoping to capture Pokémon and force them to battle one another, Pokémon Snap took a much calmer approach to catching pocket monsters by catching their images with a camera.

Pokémon Snap offered unique gameplay for its time, allowing players to see their favorite creatures interact with one another naturally in the wild. Over the years, this game continues to be remembered as one of the most beloved from the early days of Pokémon – enough to be re-released on both the Wii and the WiiU in later years! With so many secrets and different ways to discover Pokémon, Pokémon Snap had an amazing amount of re-playability. Along with everyone else, we at Honey’s Anime continue to hope for a newer version of Pokémon Snap to find its way to the market!


6. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

  • System: Nintendo DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Sep. 28th, 2006 JP; Apr. 22nd, 2007 NA

Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, set in the brand new Sinnoh region, included much of what was loved about the older generations of games. However, a few important elements were added to Diamond/Pearl that continue to be implemented in the franchise today. One of these is the Global Trading System, or GTS, where trainers can deposit Pokémon to trade for another they might want. This feature is still put into games today, and is one of the more useful implements for players who might not be able to find a specific Pokémon they need.

Diamond/Pearl also changed up the way that contests were carried out, altering a number of details to allow the player more control with touch-screen specific functions. Although the graphics weren’t anything too impressive, the games themselves were entertaining and well thought out. Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl sold well in the first few weeks of release, and their reception continues to be positive even now. This generation has remained one of the more popular Pokémon series, even after some time.


5. Pokémon Colosseum

  • System: Nintendo GameCube
  • Publisher: Genius Sonority
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Nov. 21st, 2003 JP; Mar. 22nd, 2004 NA

A sequel to the Pokémon Stadium game on the Nintendo 64, Pokémon Colosseum is everything that its predecessor was and more! Not only was the classic battling mode back, but this time you could upload some of your favorite Pokémon from your own handheld game into Colosseum. The game also featured an interesting story mode, where Pokémon were being turned dark by a mysterious group. It was an easy game to get into, and allowed people without the handheld consoles a chance to play a similar version of the Pokémon games they had heard about.

Pokémon Colosseum was revolutionary for its time because of the 3D sprites included with the updated graphics of the GameCube. This aspect was one of the major appeals of the game, especially with the bonus of incorporating your own Pokémon from the handheld versions. Despite the difference in consoles and the large influence from Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Colosseum was very much a traditional Pokémon game, with its linear storyline about an evil team that the player must defeat. As such, it was a major improvement from the rather limited Pokémon Stadium game. While both are remembered for nostalgia, Pokémon Colosseum is arguably more popular and well-liked.


4. Pokémon Yellow

  • System: Game Boy, Game Boy Color, 3DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Sep. 12th, 1998 JP; Oct. 18th, 1999 NA

Despite not being made that different from Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, we felt that Pokémon Yellow was unique enough to deserve its own spot on this list. Pokémon Yellow was one of the original generation games, to set the standard for what the Pokémon franchise in the future should emulate.

This game found its flair in the mechanic of a Pokémon that follows you around throughout the story. In this case, it was Pikachu, the same as Ash’s Pikachu in the anime. Pokémon Yellow was similar to the other games of its generation, but differed in that its approach to the game was limited to the anime’s perspective of Ash Ketchum and his individual Pikachu. Due to this unique take on the original game, Pokémon Yellow continues to be remembered as one of the best games of all time from the franchise.


3. Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal

  • System: Game Boy, 3DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Developer: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
  • Release Dates: Nov. 21st, 1999 JP; Oct. 15, 2000 NA

Pokémon Gold, Pokémon Silver and Pokémon Crystal are some of the most influential games in the Pokémon series, especially since they were the second generation of games to be produced. With a brand new roster of Pokémon to catch and a whole new region to explore, Silver/Gold/Crystal began the trend of revamping and reproducing the basic formulas that made the Pokémon series great, while allowing for new creative license.

This second generation of games brought about plenty of important changes, the most notable of these being the breeding feature. Silver/Gold/Crystal was also where the day/night cycle and time changes were introduced, allowing time-specific Pokémon like Espeon and Umbreon to shine. Type changes were refined, with the new Steel and Dark types added to balance the scale a bit more. Shiny Pokémon were introduced to the games. Silver/Gold/Crystal were also the first Pokemon games to include post-game content, allowing the player to travel to the Kanto region after having beaten the main story. In addition, the Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver remakes of their original counterparts added updated graphics and many other changes necessary to make these games some of the best that Pokémon has to offer!


2. Pokémon Red/Blue

  • System: Game Boy, 3DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Feb. 27th, 1996 JP (with Green); Sep. 28th, 1998 NA

Here we have the games that started it all - Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. Since there was no precedent before these games were born, it is these two games that were some of the most innovative and creative in terms of both story and gameplay.

Although Japan had gotten Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green a couple years prior, when the games were released to the world it was decided that Red would be accompanied by Blue, which was a blend of the two original games with slight improvements made. The games quickly became popular. Their unique combination of battling pocket monsters and interesting RPG story was a sure win for everyone involved.

Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue are still some of the most popular games around, and one of the most well-known video games in the world. With the re-release of Red/Blue for virtual console on the 3DS, they will only continue to get more popular and be an important part of more people’s lives. However, there is one other series of Pokémon games that tops these two giants…


1. Pokémon X/Y

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Dates: Oct. 12th, 2013

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y took a large step in the right direction the moment they were released to the public. The storyline is immersive and great, while still following all of the basic formulas from the original games. It built off of everything in the past Pokémon games to make the best Pokémon games of all time – in everything from graphics, to plot, to game mechanics, to online playability, to post-game content, X and Y are superior.

Part of what makes X and Y so great is what they managed to do for the Pokémon franchise as a whole. The Pokémon games were in a decline, a bit of a slump, with people thinking less and less about the franchise in terms of upcoming games. But when X and Y were released, people that were new to the games found an interesting foothold. At the same time, people who had been playing Pokémon for years found a new game that actually interested them. X and Y are games that appeal to everyone!

The games have a good flow, with a relatively easy transition in the beginning that allows the player to get up and running in the story without worrying too much about their team’s level. Players were allowed to customize their characters for the first time beyond just picking a gender, and were given a wide variety of online access to multiplayer options. A new Fairy type was introduced, balancing the type charts even more, and watching your Pokémon Mega Evolve in the new 3D graphics was immensely satisfying as well! Pokémon X and Y gave fans a lot of what they wanted overall, with tons of new improvements that kept us interested.


Honorable Mentions – Pokémon Go and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

While there isn’t enough room for every Pokémon game on our list, we believe that these two games are also worth mentioning for the impact they had on the franchise. Pokémon Go is a mobile game that gave rise to a worldwide growth in Pokémon’s popularity, with people going outside and playing Pokémon together being something definitely not overlooked. In addition, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is one of the best in the Mystery Dungeon series, a group of games that allow the player to be a Pokémon, in a world full of only other Pokémon – a very unique game idea!


Final Thoughts

It’s thanks to these games on our list that Pokémon is such a success. Hopefully, the games will continue to improve and allow fans to express their love for this wonderful franchise!

Which of the Pokémon games is your favorite? Do you have another game you want to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Meghan May Dellinger

Writer

Author: Meghan May Dellinger

Konnichiwa! I'm a writer/daydreamer who gets a little lost along the path of life from time to time. I love watching anime and playing all kinds of video games - everything from RPGs to first-person shooters. I hope to be an author someday, but until then, I'll share my words with the world any way I can! I love making new friends, so don't be afraid to leave a comment!

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