The Pokémon franchise is so massive that it can appeal to any kind of consumer. If you like card games, you can play the TCG. If you enjoy collecting memorabilia, there’s a ton of that out there. If you’re really into anime, Pokémon has its own as well. The same applies to the Pokémon games. Though the mainline titles are all turn-based JRPG experiences, there have been plenty of spin-offs over the years that have branched into other genres.
Some of these titles stick to their RPG roots, while others take the opportunity to completely separate themselves from the mainline entries. This is done with mixed results, as some spin-offs end up playing better than others. With no shortage of titles to choose from, take a look at 5 classic Pokémon spin-offs and another 5 you should definitely avoid.
10 Classic: Pokémon Stadium
Pokémon Stadium essentially isolates the battle mechanics of mainline Pokémon games and puts the player in a sort of tournament setting for the entirety of the game. Though it lacks the exploration and world building of its Gen I mainline counterparts, Stadium is a ton of fun to play.
The big draw with Stadium is the much more detailed Pokémon battles. Despite lacking in some other features, the emphasis on immersive battling really sold this game for many when it first released.
9 Avoid: Pokémon Art Academy
The idea behind Pokémon Art Academy is simple enough; as it’s basically a drawing game with Pokémon. It was released for the 3DS back in 2014, and while critics gave the game mostly favorable reviews, it certainly doesn’t appeal to a lot of fans.
While the game’s ideas are executed fairly well, its concept is something that only a niche group of players will enjoy. The game basically plays out like art lessons. It’s great for the drawing enthusiast sure, but not for your everyday Pokémon fan.
8 Classic: Pokémon Conquest
Pokémon Conquest may very well be one of the most unique spin-off titles in the Pokémon catalog. The game plays like a tactical RPG, while bringing players through a region completely unlike any they’ve visited in the mainline entries.
Conquest is notable in that it’s a crossover between Pokémon and Koei’s Nobunaga's Ambition series. The end result is one of the most challenging Pokémon spin-off titles out there. Conquest proves to be a great title for gamers who are fans of the Pokémon series, but also appeals to those looking for a challenging tactical RPG.
7 Avoid: Pokémon Battle Trozei
When it comes to spin-off titles, there will be those that just seem like cheap cash grabs, and others that really feel thought out and well done. Sadly Battle Trozei is a case of the former rather than the latter.
The game is just a glorified mobile game when you get down to it. It plays similar to Puzzle & Dragons and has a lot of mix and matching involved. The game might’ve been better off as an actual mobile title instead of a fully priced game.
6 Classic: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Series
In terms of spin-off titles in the Pokémon catalog, none are as beloved as the Mystery Dungeon games. The first title in the series, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team, released in 2005 to mostly positive reviews.
The games mix RPG elements along with Roguelike gameplay and really offer a nice change of pace from what fans are used to playing. It’s hard to choose just one of these games, as the entire series is generally well regarded.
5 Avoid: Hey You, Pikachu!
This one may not sit well with some, as there are gamers out there who probably have fond memories of Hey You, Pikachu! from their childhood. But the hard truth is that this just isn’t all that great of a game.
The game is essentially a digital pet game with simulation elements. Players befriend a Pikachu and take care of it while participating in various activities. But the gimmick wears thin after a while and the game starts to show just how one dimensional it is.
4 Classic: Pokkén Tournament
Whoever thought of combining Pokémon with Tekken gameplay is a genius. When you get down to it, Pokémon and fighting games just go so well together.
Pokkén Tournament allows players to choose from 23 different Pokémon, with an additional 36 Support Pokémon to choose from. Though it’s a fraction of the actual Pokémon roster, every character in Pokkén feels unique and offers players various play styles to choose from. It’s an often overlooked game, considering just how fun it is.
3 Avoid: Pokémon Dash
Considering that it served as a launch title for the DS in both Japan and Europe, one would have expected Pokémon Dash to have been a better product than it actually was. Among the many complaints aimed towards the game was its short length and limited single player options.
Dash is a racing game that relies on gimmicky mechanics that weren’t entirely uncommon in the early years of the DS. Though fun at times, the game is terribly limited and that’s really what sticks out the most with this poor title.
2 Classic: Pokémon Colosseum
In terms of Pokémon spin-offs, Colosseum is one that’s dear to many fans. The game takes Stadium’s 3D battles and mixes it in with actual world exploration, narrative and unique catching mechanics/conditions.
The game revolves around freeing “Shadow Pokémon” from opposing trainers by doing the one thing the mainline games emphasized you couldn’t; catch another trainers Pokémon. It’s a fun adventure and goes about it in such a unique way that it’s still remembered over a decade after its initial release.
1 Avoid: Pokémon Channel
Pokémon Channel shares a lot of similarities to Hey You, Pikachu! At the end of the day, both games are fairly disappointing and lackluster titles. The game is just another gimmicky spin-off title when you look past all the cute Pokémon interactions.
Channel mixes in a lot of different genres but mostly plays like an adventure game with simulation elements scattered throughout. It’s certainly an immersive experience, but lacks anything notable or really all that entertaining.