Pokemon

Top 13 best Pokemon games of the decade – ranked

by Meg Bethany Koepp
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak / Niantic / Spike Chunsoft

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There have been many entries in the Pokemon franchise in the last decade, but which ones were truly the best? All the way from mobile to Nintendo Switch, and everything in between, we’ve ranked the top 13.

Pokemon is officially the highest-grossing franchise of all time, bringing in a massive estimated $95 billion since its debut in 1996 across many forms of media such as TV, print publications, and movies.

It’s also had a very successful line of video games, and has brought out many titles over the years. In the last ten years alone, there have been over 50 additions to the series, and to celebrate the end of the decade, we’ve ranked the top 13 entries from 2010–2019.

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13. Super Mystery Dungeon

The Pokemon Company / Spike Chunsoft
The Pokemon Company / Spike Chunsoft
Super Mystery Dungeon brought the dungeon crawler to the 3DS.

As the seventh entry in the MD series, Super Mystery Dungeon saw the infamous dungeon crawler make its way to the Nintendo 3DS handheld console in late 2015.

It brought all 720 Pokemon available at the time to the game, which was a major improvement to the lineup of previous spin-off titles, as well as bringing the Fairy type and Mega Evolutions for the first time.

A new attack system called Alliances was also implemented, which allowed the player to team up multiple monsters to surround an enemy for a massive group strike.

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12. Black 2 & White 2

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
People didn't seem to like the sequels to Black and White as much as the first games.

Returning to Unova in 2012, Black 2 and White 2 were the sequels to B&W on the Nintendo DS. Set two years after the events of their predecessors, the games opened up new locations and added three Gym Leaders, as well as a brand new Champion.

Like the first titles, the post-game added sections that were inaccessible previously, such as the Skyarrow Bridge, and the Battle Institute.

They received a user score of 7.7 on Metacritic, and a critic score of 80, as people had mixed feelings on the return to the Unova region.

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11. Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
Players returned to Alola in the Ultra games.

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

Five new Pokemon and a handful of Z-Moves were added, as well as improvements to the Rotomdex such as it growing affectionate towards the player, and being able to obtain items through the Roto Loto – a feature that gave the creature extra powers.

It ranked 84 with critic reviews on Metacritic, which was three points lower than the first S&M games, though was less of a hit with fans with a score of 7.7.

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10. Detective Pikachu

Nintendo / The Pokemon Company
Nintendo / The Pokemon Company
Pikachu is a sleuth into this crime-solving mystery.

In one of the more creative spin-offs in the franchise, Detective Pikachu hit the 3DS in the West in early 2018. It follows the story of Tim Goodman after he learns of his father’s sudden disappearance, and teams up with Pikachu to figure out the mystery.

With darker themes than other games in the series, the sleuth title saw players collect evidence, gather testimonials from witnesses, and solve other crimes.

A sequel was announced for the Nintendo Switch, which is said to feature a completely different ending to the Warner Bros. Pictures film adaptation released in 2019.

9. X & Y

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
X & Y took players to the Kalos region.

Like Sun & Moon, X & Y also released on the 3DS – this time in October 2013 in the West. It brought trainers to the Kalos region for the first time, and introduced 72 new species with Generation VI.

It paved the way for future games in the series, as it was the first set of titles to use an eight-directional grid when walking instead of four, and allowed players to move diagonally for the very first time.

Pokemon-Amie was also added, and let people interact with their monsters using the console’s touch screen for a more personalized and intimate gameplay experience.

8. Sun & Moon

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
Sun and Moon's region is based on Hawaii.

Transporting Kanto Trainers to a location based off of Hawaii, Sun and Moon saw players take on trials in the Alola region, in place of the traditional Gym battles known throughout the series.

The Pokedex also got an upgrade, and was replaced by the Rotomdex – an actual Pokemon in the form of the infamous guidebook.

Like Sword & Shield, Generation VII saw its own forms exclusive to the region, such as Alola Vulpix, Raichu, Muk, and Meowth.

7. Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
OR/AS brought Ruby and Sapphire to the modern day.

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

One of the main selling points for Pokefans was the addition of Cosplay Pikachu – a special female version that could change outfit, in which the costume would also change one of its moves.

It also brought over the Mega Evolutions and the Mega Stones from X & Y, as well as adding new ones that didn’t exist previously. The soundtrack was also improved.

6. Pokken Tournament DX

The Pokemon Company / Bandai Namco
The Pokemon Company / Bandai Namco
If you're looking for a Pokemon fighting game, Pokken Tournament DX is the one.

Pokken Tournament saw Nintendo and Bandai Namco team up to create a Pokemon fighting game for the Wii U in March 2016. It later got re-released as DX for the Switch in September 2017.

While the original is good in its own right, the successor added new features such as an exclusive fighter and a brand new game mode, as well as including all characters from the arcade version.

It also received multiple DLC packs, which brought monsters such as Mega Rayquaza, Mew, and Blastoise to the roster.

5. Let’s Go, Eevee! & Pikachu!

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The remakes of Yellow are the perfect games for people first introduced to the series.

Let’s Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! were the first Pokemon titles to grace the Nintendo Switch in November 2018, and are straight remakes of 1999’s Yellow for the Game Boy Color.

Unlike any other entry in the series, they used GO’s ring format for catching monsters – which were fully visible in the overworld for the very first time – and the only way to battle was through Trainers and not in the wild.

The Pokeball Plus accessory was a fun way to catch creatures, and allowed players to “throw” the ball, mimicking the way it’s done in the games in real life.

4. Black & White

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Gen V titles have one of the best storylines in the entire series.

Black and White for the Nintendo DS arrived in the West in March of 2011, and they have consistently been dubbed as having one of the best storylines in the entire series. Set in the Unova region, players are pitted up against Team Plasma – a fiendish group hellbent on causing destruction.

150 new Pokemon were introduced in the game’s Gen V Pokedex, making it the largest addition to the roster at the time since 2002’s Ruby and Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance.

While many newer games in the franchise are labelled as being easier, B&W’s difficulty pacing was actually quite tough, and seasoned players enjoyed the return of the challenge.

3. Sword & Shield

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The latest entry in the series is actually one of the best.

Sword & Shield are, at this time of writing, the latest Pokemon installment for the Nintendo Switch. Released on November 15, 2019, the games brought a new region into the mix – Galar, which is based on the United Kingdom – as well as a new Dynamax and Gigantamax battle feature.

With the addition of the Galarian Pokedex, players saw hundreds of new monsters added to the mix, and new special regional forms for familiar favorites such as Ponyta, Corsola, and Weezing.

The Gen VIII titles broke records fast, and sold a staggering six million units in just the opening weekend, shifting quickly to become the Switch’s most successful launch to date.

2. Pokemon GO

Pixabay / The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
Pixabay / The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
Pokemon GO has become a worldwide phenomenon.

It’s hard to deny that Niantic’s Pokemon GO hasn’t changed the mobile gaming space since its release for iOS and Android back in July 2016. In fact, the Nintendo collaboration reached a billion global downloads in early 2019, and a whopping $3 billion in revenue.

Being able to play the beloved franchise on your phone while on the move is a heavy seller for many, and it’s understandable that the idea of seeing your favorite monsters “in real life” would excite even the toughest of trainers.

The game is constantly being updated too, with many new events, Community Days for the chance to catch rare monsters, and special tasks added throughout the year.

1. HeartGold & SoulSilver

The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
The Pokemon Company / Game Freak
Your Pokemon followed you around like Pikachu in Yellow.

HeartGold and SoulSilver are the 2010 Nintendo DS remakes to the 1999 Game Boy Color Gold and Silver games, which introduced Gen II for the very first time.

It retells the story of the Johto region, and actually opens up to Red, Blue, and Yellow’s Kanto region in the post-game, making it a giant compared to recent games in the series like Sword & Shield which just has a handful of small events after the main story.

With a 9.2 user score on ranking website Metacritic, HG/SS are ranked as some of the best Pokemon games of all time – something we wholeheartedly agree with.