There has been a ton of entries in the Pokemon franchise over the last two decades plus. From the originals for the Game Boy to the new Pokemon Switch games like Scarlet & Violet. But at the end of the day, which ones were truly the best? We have ranked the best Pokemon games of all time.
Pokemon is officially the highest-grossing franchise of all time, bringing in over an estimated $100 billion since its debut in 1996 across many forms of media such as TV, print publications, and movies.
It’s also been incredibly successful when it comes to video games too and has brought out many titles over the years. In the last 10 years alone there have been over 50 additions to the series. From Pokemon GO for mobile devices to the new series of Pokemon Nintendo Switch games like Legends Arceus and Scarlet & Violet. But which ones are the best?
Best Pokemon games of all time ranked
17. Pokemon Let’s Go, Eevee! & Pikachu!
Pokemon 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 mimic the act of throwing the ball themselves – bringing the experience to life.
16. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
Released in November 2021 on Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are “faithful” remakes of the original Diamond & Pearl DS titles. Set in the Sinnoh region, you’re tasked with saving the world from Team Galactic and its evil leader Cyrus.
While it does keep many aspects of the originals, there’s also new content like an overhauled Grand Underground, a new HM mechanic, the ability to walk with your Pokemon outside their Poke Ball, and a lot more.
And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the games also include the National Pokedex up to Gen IV, giving players a whopping 493 Pokemon to catch.
15. Pokemon X & Y
Like Sun & Moon, Pokemon X & Y also released on the 3DS – this time in October 2013 in the West. It brought trainers to the Kalos region 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.
14. Pokemon Sun & Moon
Transporting Kanto Trainers to a location loosely based on Hawaii, Pokemon 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.
13. Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
2014 saw the release of the remakes of 2002’s hit Game Boy Advance titles Ruby and Sapphire. Aptly named Pokemon 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 outfits, 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.
12. Pokemon Colosseum
This Nintendo GameCube classic Pokemon Colosseum 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.
And we gotta give credit where credit’s due: Miror B made the game 100 times more fun. If you know, you know.
11. 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.
10. Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet are regarded as game-changers for the Pokemon franchise, mainly because they’re the first truly open-world games in the series, but also because they broke records on release.
Set in the Paldea region, the games give you the freedom to go wherever you want to at your own pace. There are three main storylines – Gym Battles to win, Titan Pokemon to defeat, and Team Star Leaders to take down – and loads of post-game content that make it incredibly engrossing.
Unfortunately, the games were released with performance issues including bizarre glitches and some serious lag, leading to Nintendo issuing an apology and a promise to fix them. If you can look past those problems, though, you’ll have a brilliant time with these games.
9. Pokemon Black & White
Pokemon 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.
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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 labeled as being easier, B&W’s difficulty pacing was actually quite tough, and seasoned players enjoyed the return of the challenge.
8. Pokemon Sword & Shield
Released in November 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Sword & Shield 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 (until Scarlet & Violet, that is!).
7. Pokemon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon
Pokemon 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.
6. Pokemon Black 2 & White 2
Returning to Unova in 2012, Pokemon 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.
5. Pokemon Legends Arceus
Pokemon Legends Arceus was the shake-up that many Pokemon fans had been waiting for. The semi-open world game takes players back in time to an ancient Sinnoh known as the Hisui region, where they’re tasked with surveying distinct environments to create the first Pokedex.
What made this spin-off so exciting was the way you could interact with wild Pokemon. Sneaking up and catching creatures on the go, running away from dangerous Alpha Pokemon that wouldn’t hesitate to attack you, or simply observing each species in its natural habitat was incredibly refreshing.
4. Pokemon Platinum
The definitive game of Gen IV, Pokemon Platinum brings Diamond & Pearl together and bundles them 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 actually returned to Sinnoh in late 2021 with the Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl remakes, which we ranked #14 on our list.
3. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness
Set five years after the events of Colosseum, Pokemon 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 in the story, and the game’s final showdown is one of the best events in the entire franchise – it’s THAT epic.
With it being 17 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, Pokemon 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.
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 the midi-style soundtrack doesn’t deserve to give it a high spot – almost top, but not quite there.
1. Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver
Pokemon 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.
Those are the best Pokemon games ranked! While you’re here, check out some more Pokemon content below:
Cutest Pokemon of all time | Best Fairy-type Pokemon | Best Water-type Pokemon | Best Grass-type Pokemon | Best Fighting-type Pokemon | Best Psychic-type Pokemon | Best Electric-type Pokemon | Best Legendary Pokemon | The Creepiest Pokedex entries of all time | The rarest and most expensive Pokemon cards