What is the best Pokémon game? Top 25 Games Ranked

Among the dozens of Pokémon games, which are the most notable? Discover our ranking of the 25 best Pokémon games.

Pokémon is a colossal license, and the iconic pocket monsters are everywhere: in our game consoles, in the cinema, on our playing cards or even stuffed animals. Since its creation, the Pokémon franchise has generated more than 100 billion dollars in revenue.

For over a quarter of a century, Pokémon games have captured the hearts and minds of players of all ages. The portfolio of games in the pocket monster franchise has become dizzying over time, to the point that it becomes easy to forget even iconic titles.

It is estimated that there are well over 100 Pokémon games, having sold over half a billion copies between them. So, determining the best and ranking them is a mammoth task.

But we think it’s possible. Without further ado, discover our ranking of the 25 best Pokémon games ever released.

Ranking the best Pokémon games of all time

25. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Évoli! et Let’s Go, Pikachu!

Screenshot of Pokémon Let's Go Eevee and Let's Go Pikachu
Game Freak

These two games were the first Pokémon titles to land on the Nintendo Switch in November 2018 and are direct remakes of Pokémon Yellow released in 1999 on Game Boy Color.

Unlike any other game in the series, they take much more inspiration from Pokémon GO for monster catching than the classic games. Speaking of monsters, this is the first time we can encounter them in the overworld: a revolution that has become a standard. In addition, the revised graphics make Let’s Go one of the most beautiful Pokémon games, if not the most beautiful.

Although unique, it is clear that these games were not primarily aimed at seasoned players already committed to the franchise. They’re too easy, lack depth, and do too much to appeal to first-gen fans.

24. Pokémon Sparkling Diamond and Sparkling Pearl

Fishing in Pokémon Sparkling Diamond and Sparkling Pearl

These games are “faithful” remakes of the original Diamond & Pearl titles on the DS. Located in the Sinnoh region, your mission is to save the world from Team Galaxy and its evil leader, Hélio.

While retaining many aspects of the originals, there is also new content like a revisited Great Underground, a new CS mechanic, the ability to walk with your Pokémon outside of their Poké Ball, and much more.

Despite introducing some cool features, these fourth generation remakes didn’t do justice to the originals. The overly simplistic visuals and the absence of key content like the Combat Zone and the Distortion World leave a slight aftertaste of sloppyness.

23. Pokémon Masters EX

Pokémon Masters Ex promotional image

It’s the franchise’s answer to gacha, a unique gaming genre where players rely on random draws to acquire characters they like. With so many companions and fan-favorite characters in Pokémon, it’s a formula that was bound to work, right?

Masters EX got off to a rocky start when it launched in 2019, but developer DENA has since rolled out a whole host of improvements. The experience is now more affordable for F2P players and offers plenty of activities.

Let’s face it, the very existence of Pokémon Masters EX is controversial due to the very nature of the gacha genre, especially since Pokémon is a franchise that really appeals to children. Despite everything, it’s a pretty fun game that has its audience.

22. Pokemon Unite

Pokémon Unite promotional image
TiMi Studios

Pokémon has never been afraid to try new genres, and nowhere is that more evident than with Unite. Pokémon Unite offers an easier entry point into the MOBA genre for those looking for a simpler, cleaner experience than DOTA or League of Legends.

When viewed as the extremely casual experience it’s supposed to be, there’s a surprising amount of fun to be had from Pokémon Unite. That said, don’t expect much competitive experience here.

21. New Pokémon Snap

Migalos in new Pokémon Snap
Bandai Namco Studios

The original Pokémon Snap game offered a great relaxing experience where players could see wild Pokémon in their natural habitat. Over twenty years later, we finally got a sequel that did not disappoint.

New Pokémon Snap picks up where its predecessor left off, allowing players to explore various levels to take photos of Pokémon. There are all kinds of secrets and hidden areas to discover, but it’s the relaxing nature that really sets this spin-off apart from other Pokémon games.

While it’s a great game, it’s hard to rank it too high on the list because it’s quite limited in scope. The story doesn’t last very long and while the visuals are solid, they aren’t as impressive as some other Switch exclusives. It’s still a strong entry that deserves to be played at least once.

20. Pokémon Red, Blue, Green and Yellow

Pallet Town in Pokémon Red
Game Freak

For simplicity, we are grouping the entire Gen 1 together, because these 4 games have too much similarity to really separate them in our ranking.

Released in 1996, Pokémon Red is where it all began. These classic titles marked the beginnings of Pokémon, introducing the core mechanics that have continued to define the series. From type affinities to catching Pokémon, it all started here.

While obviously important to Pokémon’s history, the original games are difficult to play today. They’re flawed, buggy, and generally outperformed by their successors. However, it’s hard not to respect these games, because they defined both a universe and a game system.

19. Pokémon X and Y

Battle in Pokémon X and Y
Game Freak

Like Sun & Moon, Pokémon X & Y were also released on the 3DS, this time in October 2013 in the West. They brought the trainers to the Kalos region and introduced 72 new species with Generation 6.

They paved the way for future games in the series, being the first titles to use an eight-directional grid for walking instead of four and allowed players to move diagonally for the very first time. They also introduced Mega Evolution, a mechanic that was unfortunately abandoned in later titles, but remains beloved by fans.

Although X & Y are enjoyable episodes, they suffer from being too easy, having mediocre endgames and a lack of notable characters. The last point is unfortunate given that these games followed Generation 5 which has some of the best characters in the franchise.

18. Pokémon Colosseum

Pokémon Colosseum promotional image
Genius Sonority

This Nintendo GameCube classic, Pokémon Colosseum, was arguably one of the best games on the console, plunging players into the Orre region to rescue shadowy Pokémon from the clutches of Team Cipher.

Not only was the story absolutely phenomenal, but the combat was immersive and well-designed for the time. Many trainers have been captivated by seeing 3D animated Pokémon fighting under their command.

And we must give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s: Bouledisco has made the game 100 times more fun. If you know, you know.

17. Pokémon GO

Smartphone with the Pokémon Go application

It’s hard to deny that Niantic’s Pokémon GO has changed the mobile gaming space since its release for iOS and Android in July 2016. The collaboration with Nintendo reached one billion downloads in early 2019 and impressive revenue of 3 billion dollars.

Being able to play the beloved franchise on your phone on the go is a strong selling point for many, and it’s understandable that the idea of ​​seeing your favorite monsters “in real life” would excite even the most change-averse trainers.

The game is constantly updated, with many new events, Community Days for the chance to capture rare monsters, and special tasks added throughout the year. If the economic model of Pokémon Go is enough to make one cringe, that does not prevent millions of trainers from connecting to it daily.

16. Pokémon Cristal

Battle in Pokémon Crystal
Game Freak

Released in 2001, Pokémon Crystal refined the experience offered by the initial Gen 2 titles, Gold and Silver. These games focused on what made Gen 1 so popular and thought bigger.

This generation saw the arrival of several key features, including a playable trainer, animated sprites, vibrant colors, breeding, and berries. It also introduced two new types and held items that still play a huge role in fights to this day.

Unfortunately, much like Gen 1, Cristal can be a little difficult to enjoy at times these days. It holds up better than Red & Blue, but still suffers from its terrible level curve, limited Pokédex, and while the presence of two playable regions sounds exciting, the Crystal version of Kanto leaves a lot to be desired.

15. Pokémon Sword and Shield

Charmilly in Pokémon Sword and Shield
Game Freak

Released in November 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Sword & Shield introduced a new region into the mix: United Kingdom-based Galar, as well as a new Dynamax and Gigamax battle feature.

With the addition of the Galar Pokédex, players saw hundreds of new monsters added to the mix, and new special regional forms for monsters like Ponyta, Corayon, and Smogogo.

Unfortunately, Sword and Shield will likely be most remembered for the Dexit controversy that saw the National Pokédex completely removed and hundreds of Pokémon become unfindable for the first time in a main game.

14. Pokémon Sun and Moon

Brindibou in Pokémon Sun and Moon
Game Freak

Transporting trainers from Kanto to a location loosely based on Hawaii, Pokémon Sun and Moon saw players take on challenges in the Alola region, in place of the traditional Gym battles known throughout the series.

The Pokédex has also been upgraded and replaced with the Rotom-Dex, a real-life Pokémon serving as your guide. Additionally, Z-Moves allowed Pokémon to attack each other once per battle, creating spectacular animations in the process.

Overall, these were solid games that brought something new to a series that sorely needed it. They suffer from pacing issues, with the beginning of the game being particularly slow, a problem that its sequel would later address.

13. Pokémon Ranger

Promotional image of Pokémon Ranger

Some fans criticize Pokémon for its lack of innovation. Still, this series has its moments of true originality, providing an experience like no other. Pokémon Ranger is the perfect example of this, being one of the best games on the DS.

Ranger tasks players with capturing Pokémon using a unique circular drawing mechanic with the DS stylus. It works extremely well and does an excellent job of highlighting the console’s #1 selling point: its touchscreen.

Unfortunately, this series has disappeared, as the Switch does not have a touch screen suitable for this type of gameplay. Nonetheless, we hope that this incredible spin-off can one day return in some form.

12. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen

Battle in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen
Game Freak

As previously mentioned, Gen 1 is an iconic but flawed generation that can be frustrating to play. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good ways to enjoy Kanto today, though. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen are Gen 1 remakes released in 2004 that correct most of the problems of the original while retaining the charm of the original games.

Virtually every notable update from Gen 2 and 3 has found its way into FireRed and LeafGreen. Game Freak also added the Sevii Islands, Seeker, expanded the story, and much more. So much more, in fact, that this article would stretch for another 1,000 words if we listed everything.

For those wanting to experience Kanto at its best, look no further than these gems. These are great examples of what a remake should be, and we can only hope that future remakes will be more like them and less like Sparkling Diamond and Sparkling Pearl.

11. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

Groudon in Pokémon Omega Ruby
Game Freak

2014 saw the release of remakes of the hit 2002 Game Boy Advance titles, Ruby and Sapphire. Aptly named Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, they brought the 2D pixel game into the modern era on the Nintendo 3DS.

One of the biggest selling points for Pokémon fans was the ability to Mega Evolve Pokémon, a mechanic carried over from X and Y. Several iconic Generation 3 Pokémon received Mega Evolves, including starters, but also Altaria, Drattak and Rayquaza.

Speaking of Rayquaza, the post-game Delta Episode was a highlight, with the nostalgic finale with Deoxys being a treat for long-time fans. It’s just a shame that ROSA removed the Battle Frontier, which was one of Emerald’s standout features.

10. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Sky Explorers

Promotional poster for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon

Although critics weren’t particularly enthusiastic upon release, Sky Explorers remains a beloved game in the Pokémon community. This 2009 DS exclusive is the improved version of Explorers of Time and Shadow, bringing several interesting new features.

Sky Explorers introduced lookalike items, additional Pokémon, Shaymin Village, Spinda Cafe, four new starters, and Special Episodes. These episodes are particularly popular because they expand the narrative with emotional stories and redemption arcs.

To this day, Sky Explorers is considered one of the best story-driven Pokémon games ever made. It may not appeal to everyone, but for those with whom it resonated, it became an instant classic.

9. Pokémon Black and White

Kyurem in Pokémon Black and White
Game Freak

Pokémon Black and White for the Nintendo DS arrived in the West in March 2011, and it is consistently praised as having one of the best storylines in the entire series. Set in the Unova region, players face Team Plasma – an evil group bent on wreaking destruction.

150 new Pokémon have been introduced to the game’s Gen V Pokédex, making it the largest addition to the roster since 2002’s Ruby and Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance.

With wonderful sprite work and possibly the best story in the series to date, there are plenty of reasons to play Black and White. However, it loses points for locking all Pokémon from previous generations until post-game and for having so many Pokémon that are uninteresting and quickly fade into oblivion.

8. Pokémon Scarlet and Purple

Chochodile in Pokémon Scarlet and Purple
Game Freak

Pokémon Scarlet and Purple are considered groundbreaking for the Pokémon franchise, primarily because they are the first truly open-world games in the series, but also because they broke records upon release.

Located in the Paldea region, the games give you the freedom to go wherever you want at your own pace. There are three main storylines – Gym Battles to win, Pokémon Titans to defeat, and Team Star Leaders to face. To top it off, Pokémon Scarlet and Purple offer a ton of post-game content.

Its performance issues at launch made it more difficult to enjoy these games, and unfortunately left a bitter taste for trainers. Still, the transition to open-world gameplay is huge for Pokémon, and the post-game content of Zone Zero is nothing short of breathtaking.

7. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2

Covers of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2
Game Freak

Returning to Unova in 2012, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are the sequels to Black and White on the Nintendo DS. Set two years after the events of its predecessors, the games opened new locations and added three Arena Leaders, as well as a brand new Champion.

The post-game has been strengthened with sections that were previously inaccessible, such as the Wisdom Bridge, and the Combat Institute.

Having a direct sequel is fantastic, and it’s a shame that Game Freak didn’t try the experience again for other Pokémon titles. Unova has always been a region full of personality, with an excellent storyline and memorable characters.

6. Pokémon Platinum

Pokémon Platinum cover
Game Freak

The final Gen 4 release, Pokémon Platinum, brings Diamond and Pearl together to pack them into one great experience.

Set in the Sinnoh region, it follows the player as they attempt to save the world from the clutches of Team Galaxy leader Helio. The story is filled with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat every step of the way.

Platinum offers a wonderful blend of effective storytelling, an iconic Council of Four, and solid gameplay with few mistakes. In addition, the additions of Beladonis, the Distortion World and various quality of life improvements make it unmissable.

5. Pokémon XD: Breath of Darkness

Nintendo Switch with Pokémon XD Breath of Darkness
Genius Sonority

Set five years after the events of Colosseum, Pokémon XD: Breath of Darkness focuses on a new Trainer named Michael who vows to thwart Team Cipher’s plans for world domination.

Not only are there new Pokémon to purify, but Dark Lugia also plays a massive role in the story, and the game’s final showdown is one of the best events in the entire franchise – it’s epic at that point.

17 years after its release, fans have been clamoring for a remake or remaster of both GameCube games, and we completely agree! Come on, Nintendo.

4. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Flamiaou, Brindibou and Otaquin in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
Game Freak

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon mark the return of the Hawaii-inspired Alola region in November 2017 – this time with an alternate storyline to its predecessors.

Five new Pokémon and a handful of Z-Moves have been added, along with improvements to the Rotom-Dex like its growing affection towards the player and the ability to obtain items through Roto-Loto – a feature that gives the creature additional powers.

These are great examples of how to make an improved version, with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon fixing many of the pacing issues of the original, strengthening the Ultra Chimeras, and introducing a true endgame with the Ultra-Breaches.

3. Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Keunotor in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Game Freak

Pokémon Legends: Arceus was the shake-up many Pokémon fans were waiting for. This semi-open game takes players back in time to an ancestral Sinnoh known as the Hisui region, where they are tasked with mapping distinct environments to create the first Pokédex.

What makes this spin-off so exciting is how you can interact with wild Pokémon. Sneaking up and capturing creatures, running away from dangerous Alpha Pokémon that won’t hesitate to attack you, or simply observing each species in their natural habitat is incredibly refreshing.

It’s one of the best entries into the Pokémon universe and proves that Game Freak is still capable of authentic innovation. It’s not the prettiest game, but that’s forgivable since the gameplay loop and story are memorable. Hopefully we’ll see more Legends games in the future, as the formula has clearly won over its audience!

2. Pokémon Emerald

Rayquaza in Pokémon Emerald
Game Freak

Like Platinum for Gen IV, Pokémon Emerald is the best version of Gen 3. Not only does it include the Battle Zone, but you can also capture Rayquaza.

There’s not just one evil team: Team Aqua and Team Magma are both fighting to assert their dominance and awaken Groudon and Kyogre, meaning players have twice as much work if they want to save the Hoenn region.

Although we’ve added Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire further down this list, it’s hard to argue that the nostalgic charm of Emerald’s 2D graphics and chiptune soundtrack deserve to give it a high place – almost at the top, but not quite.

1. Pokémon Or HeartGold et Argent SoulSilver

Screenshot of Pokémon Hearthgold and Soulsilver
Game Freak

Pokémon Gold HeartGold and SoulSilver are the 2010 Nintendo DS remakes of the 1999 Game Boy Color games Gold and Silver, which introduced Generation 2 for the very first time.

It retells the story of the Johto region and even opens up to the Kanto region of Red, Blue and Yellow in post-game, making it a giant compared to recent games in the series like Sword and Shield, which only offer a few small events after the main story.

These are the most comprehensive games in the Pokémon series yet, offering a ton of exciting content, legendaries to catch, and an epic conclusion that sees you battle Red atop Silver Mountain. These are incredible games which have left their mark and still mark those who try it.

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