There have been many entries in the Pokemon franchise, but which ones were truly the best? All the way from mobile to Nintendo Switch, and everything in between, we’ve ranked the top 15.
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 10 alone there have been over 50 additions to the series. But which ones are the best?
Best Pokemon games of all time
15. Black 2 & White 2
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.
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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.
14. Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon
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.
13. X & Y
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.
12. Sun & Moon
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.
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Like Sword & Shield, Generation VII saw its own forms exclusive to the region, such as Alola Vulpix, Raichu, Muk, and Meowth.
11. Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
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.
10. Pokemon Colosseum
This Nintendo GameCube classic was arguably one of the best games on the system, throwing players into the Orre region to reclaim Shadow Pokemon from the clutches of the evil Team Cipher who were closing off ‘mon’s hearts to shut off their emotions.
Not only was the story absolutely phenomenal, but battles felt immersive and fleshed out for the time. It wasn’t like the Game Boy Advance titles where Pokemon moved slightly when hit – they actually fully performed moves and reacted when hit.
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And we gotta give credit where credit’s due: Miror B made the game 100 times more fun. If you know, you know.
9. Let’s Go, Eevee! & Pikachu!
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.
8. New Pokemon Snap
22 years after the Nintendo 64 classic debuted, its sequel, New Pokemon Snap, released. Set in the Lental region, budding photographers help Professor Mirror study the strange Illumina phenomenon by taking photos.
Not only does the game take the original’s roster of 63 ‘mon and increase it to a whopping 214, 10 of those are Legendary, meaning shutterbugs have their work cut out for them if they want to complete their Photodex.
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The graphics look amazing compared to the N64 title, and it really shows off the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities – it’s almost hard to believe that it’s handheld.
7. Black & White
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.
6. Sword & Shield
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.
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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.
5. Pokemon GO
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.
4. Pokemon Platinum
The definitive game of Gen IV, Pokemon Platinum brings Diamond & Pearl together and bundles it up into a near-perfect experience.
Set in the Sinnoh region, it follows the player as they try to save the world from the clutches of Team Galactic boss, Cyrus. The story is filled with twists and turns that keep you entertained every step of the way.
Generation 4 fans are actually returning to Sinnoh in late 2021 with the recently-announced Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl remakes. For everything we know about the glossy new Nintendo Switch games, check out our hub.
3. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness
Set five years after the events of Pokemon Colosseum, XD: Gale of Darkness focuses on a new Trainer called Michael who vows to thwart Team Cipher in their plans to achieve world domination.
Not only are there new Pokemon to purify but Shadow Lugia also plays a massive part of the story, and the game’s final showdown is one of the best events in the entire franchise – it’s THAT epic.
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With it being 16 years since release, fans are crying out for a remake or remaster of the two GameCube games, and we’re right there with them! Please, Nintendo.
2. Pokemon Emerald
Like Platinum is to Gen IV, Emerald is the better version of Gen III. Not only does it include the Battle Frontier, but you can also catch Rayquaza.
There’s not just one villainous team, either: both Team Aqua and Magma fight to assert dominance and wake Groudon and Kyogre up, meaning players have twice the work if they want to save the Hoenn region and doubling the fun.
Though we added Omega Ruby and Sapphire later down this list, it’s hard to argue that the nostalgic charm of Emerald’s 2D graphics and midi-style soundtrack doesn’t deserve to give it a high spot – almost top, but not quite there.
1. HeartGold & SoulSilver
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.