14 Best Pokémon Games of All Time (Main Titles Ranked)

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Pokémon, as a game franchise, has stood the test of time. It currently has eight generations of games — and that’s just in the core series. Beyond those mainline games, there have been many spin-offs and remakes that have been released — so many that it can be almost impossible to pick the best Pokémon games out of all of them. Luckily for you, we’re here to sort that out.

 

Inside This Article

  1. Overall Best: Pokémon Gold and Silver
  2. Runner-Up: Pokémon Blue and Red
  3. Pokémon Yellow
  4. Pokémon Go
  5. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire
  6. Pokémon Sword and Shield
  7. Pokémon X and Y
  8. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
  9. Pokémon Emerald
  10. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl
  11. Pokémon Black and White
  12. Pokémon Sun and Moon
  13. Pokémon Stadium
  14. Pokémon Snap

 

The Best Pokémon Games of All Time

Below, we’ve ranked the best Pokémon games of all time for you, with number one being the overall best. On this list, we’ve added games from the core series as well as a few spin-offs and remakes.

 

1. Overall Best: Pokémon Gold and Silver

Pokemon Gold and Silver, two of the best Pokemon games ever
Photo from VentureBeat

Platform: Game Boy Color
Year Released: 1999

Taking the number one spot is the duo from Generation Two: Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. The pair proves to be the best Pokémon games of all time for their sheer innovation and for the way they pushed the franchise forward. For starters, Gold and Silver’s Johto Region brought in 100 more critters to the already expansive Pokémon library; included in this new batch are the three legendary dog Pokémon: Entei, Suicune, and Raikou. The games also added two new Pokémon types to the mix — Dark and Steel — to make battles more balanced.

Beyond adding more Pokémon to the Pokédex, Gold and Silver added other fun, new elements that changed up the game in the long run. One of them was the concept of time through the day and night cycle. This then ushered in time-specific challenges and Pokémon that you could only catch at specific times of the day. There was also the addition of shiny Pokémon, a bunch of new moves, and the Kanto region, where you can revisit all the gyms and trainers from Pokémon Red and Blue. Not to mention, Gold and Silver were also in color, unlike the Generation One games, which were mostly in black and white.

Pokémon Gold and Silver were originally released for Game Boy Color and are cross-compatible with other Game Boy systems like Advance. Although there are rumors going around, there is no confirmation about the possible remake of these titles for Switch. You may, however, dump your existing Pokémon Gold and Silver games to ROMs and use GBA emulators to play them.

Buy Pokemon Gold on Nintendo eShop

Get Pokemon Silver on Nintendo eShop

 

2. Runner-Up: Pokémon Red and Blue

Pokemon Red and Blue
Photos from Bulbapedia and PokemonCoders

Platform: Game Boy
Year Released: 1996

The runner-up for the best Pokémon game of all time is the Pokémon Red and Blue duo. They hold the same charm that Gold and Silver have, but they don’t make the top spot by a slight margin. Still, these were the games that started it all. Red and Blue took us to the magical world of Kanto. More importantly, they introduced us to the original 151 Pokémon, which are probably the most recognizable characters in the entire series. This is also where we meet the classic starter Pokémon: Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur.

Red and Blue established much of how the core series games are played, and they did that so well, seeing as these titles still hold up to this day. These games let us journey with Ash in his first adventure, brought us the iconic gym badges, and introduced us to the Team Rocket villains and the Elite Four. They built a strong foundation that catapulted the Pokémon franchise into success. And for that, they deserve a spot as one of the best Pokémon games ever.

Buy Pokemon Red on Nintendo eShop

Get Pokemon Blue on Nintendo eShop

 

3. Pokémon Yellow

Pokemon Yellow
Photo from Nintendo South Africa

Platforms: Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Year Released: 1998

Next on our list of the best Pokémon games of all time is Pokémon Yellow. It centers on Pikachu, the most famous Pokémon, so you don’t get to choose a starter Pokémon unlike in the previous games. In this game, Pikachu has a voice and a personality, and it can react to your actions and change its feelings towards you, which you can track through the friendship system. Also, it follows you around throughout the whole game, which is a huge plus for a lot of Pokémon fans.

One of the things that make this title special is how it allowed players to play out Ash’s story. It also made some improvements on Pokémon Red and Blue. Some of those were in terms of aesthetics, like the design of the Trainer and Pokémon sprites. The game also added new Trainers, moves, and a minigame where you get to surf on Pikachu’s back.

Pokémon Yellow went out for the Game Boy system but had some remakes for newer Nintendo handheld consoles, Pokémon: Let’s Go for Switch being the latest one.

Get Pokemon Yellow on Nintendo eShop

 

4. Pokémon Go

Pokemon Go
Photo by Niantic, Inc. from the Google Play Store

Platform: Mobile
Year Released: 2016

Pokémon Go isn’t in the core series, but, without a doubt, it’s still one of the best Pokémon games released. In addition, it’s among the best anime games of all time. It took the world by storm in the summer of 2016, and years later, it still has a massive and loyal player base. This is the first Pokémon game to use augmented reality, and it did so successfully.

In Pokémon Go, there are more Pokémon to collect (some of them wild and rare), more battles, and new items, like Incense, Lure Modules, and Lucky Eggs. With the launch of Pokémon Go also came Pokémon Home, an app that lets you store the Pokémon you’ve caught. The app connects Pokémon Go to other games, like Pokémon Let’s Go! and Pokémon Sword and Shield.

For some, especially the kids, this was their intro to the Pokémon franchise. Since the game’s schtick is collecting Pokémon in different actual locations, it pushed a generation of gamers to enjoy the outdoors—something that video games rarely achieve.

Download it from Google Play

Get it from the Apple App Store

 

5. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire
Photo from Game Informer

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Year Released: 2002

Next up, we have Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The launch of this duo brought in 135 shiny new Pokémon, including Slaking, Salamence, and the incredibly powerful Rayquaza. This new batch of little monsters might not be as iconic as the one that came before, but they still add to the fun of the games. Besides new Pokémon, Ruby and Sapphire also took us to a new location, Hoenn Island, which is undoubtedly one of the best regions in the series.

With the launch of Ruby and Sapphire, players saw the addition of some cool, new features. These were the games where double and multi battles were introduced, as well as EV and IV systems. Also, Pokémon started to have different Natures here, which had an impact on their overall stats. There was also the addition of Contests and new abilities, which gave the Pokémon battles more depth.

While Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire didn’t change the direction of the entire series much, they made the world of Pokémon a bit more vibrant. And that’s what makes the duo among the best Pokémon games of all time. Ruby and Sapphire’s last remake was in 2014 with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire for 3DS.

Get Pokemon Ruby on Amazon

Get Pokemon Sapphire on Amazon

 

6. Pokémon Sword and Shield

Sword and Shield
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Year Released: 2019

Despite missing a handful of long-time and crucial Pokémon — like Rattata, Chikorita, and Seal — Pokémon Sword and Shield still prove to be some of the best Pokémon games of all time. They’re the first Pokémon core series games to ever be on the Nintendo Switch, and they made players experience the world of Pokémon in a way that feels brand new. They’re fully 3D and playable on a home console, which has been the dream of many Pokémon fans for a long time. Not to mention, they’re by far the most visually appealing games in the entire franchise.

Pokémon Sword and Shield take you to the Britain-based Galar Region. There are two ways you can explore this region; first, you can journey into the Wild Area, where you can catch wild Pokémon depending on the weather. Or if you want gameplay with more of a direction, you can take the set pathways that have been in the core series from the very start.

Sword and Shield also added some new, game-changing elements to the series. For the first time ever, you can now remotely access your Pokebox instead of running all the way back to the PokeCenters. There’s also the new camp feature, which gives you the chance to hang out with your Pokémon. Plus, you can venture into the new Isle of Armor and the snowy Crown Tundra, which can only mean new Pokémon and, of course, new foes. Sword and Shield have a rating E from the Entertainment Software Rating Board — meaning it’s a Switch game for kids.

Buy it on Nintendo eShop

 

7. Pokémon X and Y

X and Y
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Year Released: 2013

Sitting at number seven are Pokémon X and Y. These were the first Pokémon games that were truly 3D. By using a behind-the-body-angle, they gave a fresh, new look to the series, which until then was just played from a top-down POV. The crisp 3D animations also made the battle sequences feel more elevated.

While the storyline wasn’t the best, Pokémon X and Y gave players a lot of new things to look forward to. For one, the games were set in the new French-themed Kalos region. This is notably one of the larger and more stylish regions, with coves, rivers, and mountain ranges spread throughout its landscape. X and Y also brought in Mega Evolutions and 72 brand new Pokémon, including the new Fairy type. On top of these, they also added the Pokémon-Amie system, which allowed players to bond with their Pokémon more through certain interactions.

Get Pokemon X on Nintendo eShop

Buy Pokemon Y on Nintendo eShop

 

8. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
Photo from Geek Dad

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Year Released: 2014

Taking the eighth spot of the best Pokémon games of all time are Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire —remakes of the Ruby and Sapphire core games. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are still set in the Hoenn Region—just like in the original—but the Pokédex is much larger, and the visuals much more inviting. Super Training and Mega Evolution, which were from Pokémon X and Y, were also added to the remake.

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire brought in brand new elements and mechanics to the game. For one, you can now fly around Hoenn using Latios or Latias fly and find mirage spots. These spots can then lead you to Pokémon that didn’t use to be available in the region. There were also brand new characters, like Zinnia and Aarune, new accessories and trainer classes, and the addition of the adorable Cosplay Pikachu.

Buy Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on Nintendo eShop

 

9. Pokémon Emerald

Pokemon Emerald
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Year Released: 2004

Next on our list of the best Pokémon games is Pokémon Emerald, which was the final installation in Gen Three. It was in this game that players could gain access to the Battle Frontier, which essentially acted as a new region for players to explore. Here, there were exciting, new challenges to beat after winning the battle against the Elite Four. Pokémon Emerald also introduced a new character, Scott, who you’d meet every now and then throughout the game until you enter the Battle Frontier.

In many ways, Emerald refined Ruby and Sapphire; there were new field effects, upgraded Pokémon teams, and some design improvements to the characters and the facilities. But many thought it simply wasn’t distinct enough from Ruby and Sapphire. That said, it’s a title in the core series that a lot of players look back on fondly.

Get it on Amazon

 

10. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl

Diamond and Pearl
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Nintendo DS
Year Released: 2006

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl aren’t really the most memorable in the series, but they do get credit for bringing in an important feature to the games: Global Trade System, or GTS. Before then, trading Pokémon required a cable link. But with the GTS, all trading and battling became online, thanks to the Nintendo DS’s new Wi-Fi connectivity. That meant you could trade and battle with other Pokémon players around the globe, not just those in your area.

There were several new things Diamond and Pearl brought to the table. One of those was the Pokétch, or the Pokémon Watch, which keeps track of the time and the date of a Pokémon’s capture. They also ushered in 107 new Pokémon, bringing the total number to 493. A remake for this duo is on its way for Nintendo Switch called Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Buy Pokemon Diamond on Amazon

Get Pokemon Pearl on Amazon

 

11. Pokémon Black and White

Pokemon Black and White
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Nintendo DS
Year Released: 2010

Next up on our list of the best Pokémon games of all time are Pokémon Black and White. These games take place in the Unova Region, which is largely based on the state of New York, with its mix of rural and urban areas, as well as industrial elements. In this region, there are 156 new Pokémon to catch—higher than any other game in the core series.

The designs of these pocket monsters weren’t that memorable, but other things made them stand out from the rest. For one, they notably had a more mature tone and a more complex plot than the others. There was Team Plasma, who believed that Pokémon should be allowed to roam free. Pokémon Black and White also brought with them the Entralink, which allowed wireless contact between local players, Pokémon Dream World, as well as some visual enhancements, among others.

Get Pokemon Black and White on Amazon

 

12. Pokémon Sun and Moon

Pokemon Sun and Moon
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Year Released: 2016

At number 12, we have Pokémon Sun and Moon, the first installments in the 7th generation. Sun and Moon brought some welcome changes into the franchise. For instance, the games take place across the Hawaii-based Alola Islands, which gave the series a refreshing look and feel. With this change in the setting also came some changes in the mechanics; in Sun and Moon, you no longer had to complete gym battles in order to move forward in the game. Instead, you had to overcome island trials—one in each of the five Alolan Islands.

However, not all of these changes improved the gameplay. The switch from the gym battles made Sun and Moon feel much slower than the other games. There was also not a lot of post-game content, which has been a staple in the series since the very beginning.

Clearly, Sun and Moon were missing a few things that gave the Pokémon series its distinct feel. That said, the games did make an effort to switch up the formula a bit. And for that, they still deserve to be recognized as among the best Pokémon games of all time.

Buy Pokemon Sun and Moon on eShop

 

13. Pokémon Stadium

Pokemon Stadium
Photo from Pokemon

Platform: Nintendo 64
Year Released: 1999

The 13th spot on our list goes to Pokémon Stadium. Released after the success of the First Gen core games, Pokémon Stadium was the first Pokémon game that wasn’t centered on role-playing. It was also the first 3D game that the franchise launched, rendering all 151 Pokémon thus far in all their glory.

Essentially, the game had you going on face-offs against other Pokémon in either one of two modes: Battle or Stadium. In these battles, you could win tons of trophies and unlock the Gym Leader Castle, where you’ll battle the Elite Four. Each time you win against them, you win one of eight prize Pokémon:  Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Eevee, Kabuto, and Omanyte.

Besides these epic battles, though, Pokémon Stadium also has mini-games — perhaps some of the best in the franchise. There was Snore War, Sushi Go-Round, Magikarp Splash, and a whole lot more. It also gave us a look inside Oak’s Lab, where you could also see your Pokédex, and the Victory Palace. Best of all, the game had Transfer Pak, which let you use your own collection of Pokémon from Red, Blue, or Yellow in the battles.

It’s an underrated game, but many are also wanting to see the game on Switch in the future. In the meantime, you can play Pokémon Stadium on Nintendo 64 emulators if you no longer have the actual console.

Get it on Amazon

 

14. Pokémon Snap

 

Pokemon Snap
Photo from Wikipedia

Platform: Nintendo 64
Year Released: 1999

Last on our list of the best Pokémon games is Pokémon Snap. This game may not be award-winning, but it still deserves to be on this list for its unique charm. In Pokémon Snap, you play as Todd Snap, a nature photographer who’s tasked to take the best possible Pokémon photos. It’s not as simple as it sounds, though; Professor Oak judges every photo you take based on size, pose, and how much of the Pokémon is actually in the frame. Plus, some of these little monsters can be a bit shy and difficult to photograph. Thus, you have to lure them in with special items.

There were only 63 Pokémon to photograph, though, which was kind of a downer considering there were already 151 pocket monsters at the time. That said, it was still a fun, adorable adventure to go on. A modern take on this classic Pokémon title is already available for Nintendo Switch.

Buy it on Nintendo eShop

 

Become a Pokémaster With the Best Pokémon Games

No game franchise has gotten it quite like Pokémon. Almost three decades after the launch of the first in the core series, these Pokémon games still have a massive player base. Not to mention, fans still flock to shops just to buy these titles—which, if anything, is a testament to how iconic they are. The downside, however, is that some of these games are only available on older Nintendo gaming systems. If you no longer have the actual consoles, you may still be able to enjoy the best Pokémon games using an emulator. You may use Citra Android Emulator for 3DS, DS emulators, or even NES emulators.

We hope this guide helped you pick out the best Pokémon game to revisit. Or if you’re new to the franchise, we hope it helped you pick a game to start with.

Which do you think is the best Pokémon game of all time? Let us know in the comments!

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