Over the years, the Pokémon franchise has released an ever-expanding list of titles both within and outside of the mainline series. With multiple spin-off titles for both consoles and mobile, it’s hard to decide which ones are most worth playing. After all, the first Pokémon game was released in 1996 in Japan before it was sold overseas in 1998 — almost 30 years ago.
Currently, Pokémon has released more than 30 titles, with the latest being Pokémon Legends: Arceus for the Nintendo Switch. And with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet expected to come out later this year, the potential for what can be considered the “best” game is only going to expand.
That being said, Pokémon has had some triumphs that far outshine the rest of its titles. After combing through multiple titles throughout the franchise’s history, here are the top 10 best Pokémon games of all time.
10. Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)
This is a bit of a controversial take, but you have to admit that Pokémon Sun and Moon was the first game to commit to changing the format in the main series. Rather than having a gym battle system, trainers have to challenge each island’s totem Pokémon — essentially their mascots. While the game might have felt easier than others before it, it offered a nice change of pace. Also, have you seen the announcement trailer that was released during the franchise’s 20th anniversary? The DRAMA!
9. Pokémon Smile (mobile)
If you’re one of those people who are too lazy to brush your teeth, then hopefully this Pokémon game would help motivate you. Pokémon Smile is a mobile game where brushing your teeth can help you catch some Pokémon. You choose how long you’d like to brush, from one to five minutes, follow the brushing prompts, and clean both your teeth and the Pokémon. The game also rewards you with headbands that you can wear when you brush your teeth. Yes, we’re serious, and yes, it’s real.
8. Pokémon Snap (N64 and Switch)
Seeing and capturing Pokémon in their natural habitat with Pokémon Snap is one of the most original takes on the beloved series. After its initial release on the Nintendo 64 and its recent return on the Nintendo Switch, fans enjoyed the wholesomeness of the game of just being able to capture their favorite Pokémon through photographs. And, with the Nintendo Switch allowing players to print out their captured pics using a Pikachu-themed polaroid printer, it makes the experience more sentimental.
7. Pokémon Battle Revolution (Nintendo Wii)
Pokémon Battle Revolution made bringing your Pokémon from the DS to the Wii possible and was the first game to have that capability. Trainers can share their Pokémon from Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Heartgold, and SoulSilver to the Wii, meaning that they can see their team duke it out on a larger screen in a colosseum game, which is really exciting given how long they’ve been raising these creatures.
6. Pokémon: Magikarp Jump (Mobile)
Remember that odd time in 2017 when The Pokémon Company dedicated a few days to Magikarp, releasing a game dedicated to the beloved, near-useless orange fish? Pokémon: Magikarp Jump has one goal: train your Magikarp to be the highest jumper. Trainers are to catch and raise their Magikarp to be the very best, but don’t get too attached, as there are in-game scenarios where Magikarp gets taken away. This is a unique entry in the Pokémon gaming franchise and, dare we say, a magical one.
5. Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (Nintendo DS)
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia gives off a good balance of hand-holding from the start of the game to leaving the player to go on their own as the game progresses. However, the game has a good story with an interesting mix of comedy. The best part is that you get to replay the final battle without compromising your save file.
4. Pokémon Yellow (Gameboy Color)
Pokémon Yellow was the game where trainers were originally able to live out their dreams of traveling the world with Pikachu. While it did make some parts of the game harder, like versing Brock for the first gym badge in Pewter City, just the experience of having little Pikachu follow you whereever you go is really adorable. The game was later remade in 2018 with Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee on the Nintendo Switch, but let’s be real ⏤ nothing can beat the original.
3. Pokémon Go (mobile)
Pokémon Go made the summers of 2016 memorable as it encouraged trainers old and new to go outside. It’s a shame that it came out a bit late in the USA, but the mobile AR game continues to grow and develop as the years go by, adding new Pokemon from the recent lineup to the mainline games.
2. Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum (Nintendo DS)
Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum was the game that made Pokémon a bit interesting, as it’s known to be a challenging title according to the members of the Pokémon community. It also gave birth to the best Pokémon out there: Piplup (don’t @ me). The story of the region is a bit dark, both in the games and the anime, and the underground base system was fun, as it allowed some form of interior customization as well as the ability to excavate fossils. Sadly, the remakes of Brilliant Pearl and Shining Diamond did not live up to the hype for most trainers.
1. Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Nintendo Switch)
And who could hate Pokémon Legends: Arceus? This title made traveling around in the Pokémon world feel more dangerous than ever. The plot is dark as well, as the village leaders are willing to kill you. Unlike other titles, the game does reward you for catching them all.
Not all Pokémon games can hit the mark, but some have left an impact on Pokémon fans around the world. These titles are deemed the best for their unique reasons, and while not all of them could be listed, I think we can all agree that what’s on this list deserves to be. And who knows ⏤ maybe the upcoming Pokémon Scarlet and Violet game has some potential to join the ranks one day.