So, what are the best Pokemon games?
From its humble origins on the Game Boy to its vibrant presence on the Nintendo Switch, the Pokemon franchise has enchanted millions of players around the globe for over two decades. Each installment has unfolded new regions to explore, introduced unique Pokemon species, and showcased innovative gameplay mechanics, continually fueling our passion for these lovable creatures.
Yet, as we stand amidst an extensive library of games, an important question emerges: “Which titles truly stand out as the best Pokemon games of all time?”
We’ve poured through reviews, replayed classics, and analyzed each generation to compile a comprehensive list of the top seven Pokemon games that have left a mark on this iconic franchise. From charming reboots to new additions, these games have not only pushed the boundaries of the Pokemon world but have also defined what makes a Pokemon game truly exceptional.
Pokemon Black 2 and White 2
Distinct from the usual pairs of Pokemon games, Black 2 and White 2 are direct sequels to Black and White, providing a continuation of the original story with a slew of expanded features.
One major aspect of these games is the notably expansive Pokedex, giving players the opportunity to catch and train a vast array of Pokemon species. The games are also lauded for their intricate plot, which dives deeper into the philosophical themes of truth and ideals.
This narrative depth, combined with the core gameplay mechanics, offers a refreshing take on the traditional Pokemon journey.
Pokemon Sword and Shield
Sword and Shield, representing the eighth generation of Pokemon games, take players on an adventure in the Galar region. These games took a giant leap toward a fully explorable open world with the introduction of the “Wild Area” – a sprawling, open-world area teeming with varied Pokemon species. This novel feature offered a freedom of exploration that players had long yearned for.
Other new additions include Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing, which drastically transformed the battle mechanics by allowing Pokemon to grow to gigantic sizes and gain powerful new moves.
Sword and Shield also introduced “Raid Battles,” which are cooperative battles where up to four players can team up to take down a giant Pokemon. The addition of this feature added a much needed social aspect to the games.
While Sword and Shield wasn’t perfect by any means, it still makes the cut as one of the best Pokemon games of all time.
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl
Diamond and Pearl, the flagships of the fourth generation, introduced players to the brand new Sinnoh region and an impressive list of 107 new Pokemon.
They also featured significantly improved graphics that offered a more immersive and realistic gaming experience. Perhaps the most important addition was the introduction of the physical and special split for Pokemon moves, which had a profound effect on the strategies employed in battles, making them more engaging and tactical.
The Sinnoh region, with its blend of modern, bustling cities and wild, untouched wilderness, offered an exciting and varied environment for players to travel through on their quest to catch ’em all.
Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen
FireRed and LeafGreen served as remastered editions of the original Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green games. These renditions successfully retained the charm that made the first generation endearing to many.
These games allowed newer Pokemon fans to experience the origins of the series. For older players it was a nostalgia-filled journey back to the early days of Pokemon. The games’ graphics were revamped for the Game Boy Advance, and they incorporated mechanics from the second and third gen of games. As a result, this offering is a nearly perfect blend of new and old.
Interestingly, FireRed and LeafGreen also featured fan-favorites Charizard and Venusaur on the game covers for the first time since 1999. Both of these beloved characters are listed as some of the most valuable base set Pokemon cards as of 2023.
Pokemon X and Y
A major milestone in the Pokemon franchise, X and Y ventured into the realm of 3D graphics. This caused a complete revolution in terms of visual presentation and gameplay mechanics.
With the introduction of the Kalos region, inspired by France, a distinct cultural atmosphere was added to the Pokemon universe. This level of geographical and cultural immersion had never been achieved before. It gives these games an entirely unique feel.
X and Y also unveiled the concept of mega evolutions, which significantly altered the dynamics of battles. This concept added a new layer of complexity and strategy. Another pivotal addition was the extensive customization available for player characters. This made the games more immersive, allowing players to project their identity into the game world more effectively.
Pokemon Emerald is widely hailed as the peak of the third generation of Pokemon games. It combines the most loved aspects of Ruby and Sapphire and adding a few new features of its own.
Players found the ability to catch both Groudon and Kyogre particularly exciting. This was a new aspect that made the storyline significantly more engaging.
The introduction of the Battle Frontier provided an intense post-game challenge that kept players engaged even after the main plotline had been resolved.
Emerald succeeded in preserving the graphical enhancements and gameplay advancements of Ruby and Sapphire. This makes the journey across the Hoenn region even more compelling.
Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver
When considering the massive collection of Pokemon games, HeartGold and SoulSilver are easily at the top of our list, and for good reason.
These games represent much more than a simple rehash of Gold and Silver. They are an advanced adaptation that fully utilized the features of the Nintendo DS. This change results in a mesmerizing and truly immersive gaming experience.
The visuals were dramatically improved, creating a world that is vibrant and dynamic, making players feel like they’re stepping into a completely real, alternate universe. The incorporation of the PokeWalker, an accessory that promoted physical activity by linking real-world movement to in-game rewards, was a unique feature that added an extra layer of interaction.
The return of the mechanic where Pokemon would follow players around the overworld (a feature that was adored in Pokemon Yellow) contributed to the emotional connection between players and their Pokemon.
HeartGold and SoulSilver transformed a beloved generation into an even more endearing experience. Demonstrating that older games in the franchise could be revived and reinterpreted in fresh, exciting ways. It is without a doubt the best Pokemon game of all time.