There aren't many franchises that have the brand power of Pokémon. What started as a cute little game from Game Freak grew into one of Nintendo's biggest names. Every major release garners a lot of sales, thanks to fans who have stuck with the franchise and those that get introduced to it.
With so many core games under its belt, Pokémon can be difficult to rank. We've ranked the generations of Pokémon, but now we're going through the main games and ranking them from worst to best. Core games with two versions are included, so don't expect to see Pokémon Emerald on this list.
The latest Pokémon entries are the first on our list. We're not saying that Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee are bad games, but that they're a bit lacking when compared to the other core games.
For starters, there is little to no end game content, aside from catching the Legendary Pokémon and beating the Master Trainers. They had great mechanics, but they were lacking in overall content. Keep in mind that they each retail for around $60.
Seeing a core Pokémon game in 3D was a wonderful change, but Pokémon X and Y have proven to be on the low end as far as the series goes. The games introduced Mega Evolution and cool new Pokémon, but players were doing the same things that they had been doing for generations.
Furthermore, the game was notorious for having almost no post-game content at all. There were only four Legendary Pokémon players could catch in the game, and that was all there was to do.
There's something to be said about Pokémon Black and White thrusting players into a new region with all-new Pokémon. It felt like a new adventure, but many of the designs were a bit lacking.
For the fans that grew up with the series, Black and White felt like a step sideways rather than a step forward. There were no Pokémon that fans had been in love with for several years. There were also mysterious areas that players couldn't go to. In those aspects, the Unova Region felt largely unfinished.
Fans had been asking for Ruby and Sapphire remakes since the Nintendo 3DS came out, and Game Freak finally delivered with Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. These games had a healthy amount of content in the post-game and introduced plenty of new Mega Evolutions.
However, the Hoenn Region didn't totally benefit from the engine used for X and Y. In many ways, the originals seem to surpass them. Then there was the fact that the Legendary Pokémon were stuck in portals, taking the fun of exploration out of it.
Sun and Moon are some of the more recent games on the list. There was a lot of hype surrounding these games, as they seemed to be inspired by the Orange Islands arc in the anime. Players would complete Island Trials rather than Pokémon Gyms.
The engine used for the game was also better utilized here, birthing more attractive landscapes that weren't based on a grid. However, Sun and Moon still felt a bit formulaic, as well as being notorious for talking down to the player. However, they were still great games on the 3DS.
The first Pokémon games on the Nintendo DS were beloved across the board. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl introduced players to the Sinnoh Region, which had a ton of new evolutions (and baby versions for pre-existing Pokémon). Featuring great music and an excellent use of the DS graphics, these games became the definitive ones for many fans.
There were also plenty of event Pokémon to find, which introduced their own special quests rather than receiving them through a mystery gift. Platinum's Distortion World may have been more memorable, but Diamond and Pearl are still solid entries.
The overall response to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon's reveal was lukewarm, considering that the Nintendo Switch was already out. However, there is a lot to do in those games. Players could hunt down Ultra Beasts by traveling through Ultra Space, which presented them with small but unique locations to walk through.
This was also used to find all the other pre-existing Legendary Pokémon (save for the Mythical ones). Collectors were sure to have their hands full doing everything in these massive games.
Pokémon Red and Blue were the games that started it all (here in the West anyway). Decades after their release, the games still hold up, sending players on a challenging yet fun journey to catch all 151 Pokémon and become the Kanto Region's champion.
Where newer games made it difficult to capture all the Pokémon due to the sheer number of them, Red and Blue were very manageable. These games also introduced the Game Boy Link Cable, encouraging players to battle and trade with one another.
The third generation of Pokémon gave rise to Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. These games had players travel through the Hoenn Region, which was notorious for having a lot of water. The new Pokémon were well-designed, becoming some of the most beloved creatures in the franchise.
There was also a lot of charm in the Hoenn Region, with locations like Fortree City and Sootopolis City being some of the highlights. Then there were Secret Bases, climbing the Sky Pillar, and the Battle Tower to keep players busy hours after beating the Elite Four.
The sequels to Pokémon Red and Blue were a big step forward for the franchise. Gold and Silver introduced a full wave of new Pokémon to find, as well as the return of old favorites. The Johto Region was a treat to explore, also allowing players to complete some Gyms in the order they choose.
Gold and Silver also introduced shiny Pokémon and breeding to the series. That's all without mentioning the post-game content, including roaming Legendary Pokémon and the iconic battle against Red.
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen were the first set of remakes in the franchise. Revisiting Red and Blue, the games brought players back to the Kanto Region with the new hardware and engine seen in the Game Boy Advance games.
With the introduction of two new regions, there was a greater sense of scale, and the games seamlessly integrated newer Pokémon. It also introduced the beloved Sevii Islands, which gave players more places to explore during the post-game.
Black and White were interesting games that introduced players to a new region with new Pokémon. Their sequels, Black 2 and White 2, improved on the formula in a big way. Not only were older Pokémon brought back to make the Unova Region feel more integrated with the franchise, but many new locations were opened up. This gave players a lot of freedom to explore.
Legendary Pokémon from the old games could be found as well, sending players on many quests to challenge them. Black 2 and White 2 also had a great story.
It's been nearly ten years since Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, but they still represent the best of the franchise for many fans. While Gold and Silver had a watered-down version of Kanto to explore, these games allowed it to be a full region, giving players two regions to explore.
So many Pokémon were available in those games, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Players could re-challenge Gym Leaders, compete in the Battle Frontier, and partake in the hardest A.I. battle in the series: Red.