As one of, if not the most, beloved series in all of gaming, Pokémon burst onto the scene back in 1996 and has pretty much over taken the planet. It has branched out into manga, anime, card games, and film. It has literally invaded all mediums of entertainment and I don’t think we can ever really get enough if the product is worth the legacy that the series has.
With that being said, some titles in the series have absolutely not lived up to their potential and there are those that were just a bad idea and probably shouldn’t have been made. It is also a well known fact that Pokémon has had way more success than failure in their 20 year tenure.
Their games are numerous, span many different genres and have allowed for millions of gamers to engage in the wild world of these adorable little pocket monsters for over 20 years. Whether it’s an RPG, dungeon-crawler, fighter, or an on-rail (photograph) shooter, the series has garnered worldwide acclaim and their vast arsenal of games to back it up. Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have managed to turn there delightful little creatures into a phenomenon that grabbed a generation and made us want to be the very best like no one ever was. Now, let's take a look at some of the games that helped create one of the kings of the gaming world.
15 Best: Pokken Tournament
This is one of the most recent entries on this list, but it has already made its mark on the franchise. This Pokémon/Tekken crossover game is more than just another fighting game. It helps to breathe life into a very cluttered genre. Yes, it can’t feature all 801 Pokémon on its roster, but it isn’t afraid to break the mold of the typical fighter archetypes.
The visuals are excellent, the combat is smooth and each fighter’s own personality place a large part in their move set and overall demeanor. Even though it is supposed to feel sort of like a Tekken game in combat style, it feels unique from the many other fighting games. Its use of “phase shifting” has the battle switch between “Duel Phase” and “Field Phase,” allowing certain fighters to use their strengths and take advantages of opponent’s weaknesses.
14 Worst: Pokémon Ranger
I don’t know if most people will consider this one a bad game necessarily, but it is definitely not a good one. This whole series is based off a one very annoying gimmick. Drawing lines around the Pokémon you're trying to capture seems cool to begin with, but wears out its welcome REALLY fast.
The best I can give this game is that it is the most average of the offshoot Pokémon series games. This title's biggest downfall is the ridiculous amount of repetition that goes into playing it. It can drive you crazy trying to beat this game, since you will have drawn probably a couple thousand circles by the end of it. If you happen to lose your stylus while playing this game, you either have to give up playing or try to do the impossible and draw with your finger. Good luck with that.
13 Best: Pokémon Snap
I believe this game is a relatively underappreciated game in the series. It offers a different look at the world of Pokémon. Instead of focusing on capturing and training them, you just have to wait for that perfect shot, which in a lot of ways can prove even more difficult.
Great scenery, excellent sound design and a fun story to play are only some of the aspects of the delightful photography game that has made it as timeless as it is. You get to see how these Pokémon play in their own habitat and every playthrough can feel different depending on your approach to photographing them.
This delightful gem seems an obvious choice for a much deserved sequel, especially with the design and format of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a game begging to be brought to a new generation. Nintendo, you guys need to get on this!
12 Worst: Pokémon Channel
A far cry from the formula and success of other Pokémon titles, Pokémon Channel gives the player a very different opportunity in the world of the familiar pocket monsters. The game has you live with a Pikachu and watch TV.
If you're looking for a game that doesn’t require a lot of work to succeed and all you have to do for the most part is watch things play out on a TV, then this is the game for you. But if you’re looking for some substance to your games, then steer clear of this. Especially since you are forced to watch every episode of a Pichu Bros. cartoon and it never seems to end, only for you to be forced to watch every episode again as a singular film at the game's conclusion. What where they thinking when they came up with this one?
11 Best: Pokémon Colosseum
While Pokémon Stadium may have been the first to bring Pokémon battling into the 3D world, it was Pokémon Colosseum that brought a story and protagonist to it. This game is the closest we've come to getting a 3D Pokémon game on a console, since you were made to catch Pokémon instead of renting them like in the stadium games.
The catch was that there was only a few Pokémon that you could catch and you had to essentially steal them from criminals. While it may have sucked to be so limited in which monsters made their way into your team, it bred a nice bit of anticipation for every battle wondering which Pokémon you would be able to catch. The superior story is what made this game win over its sequel, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness.
10 Worst: Pokémon Black & White
The black sheep of the main series games, Black and White came out swinging with what was probably the most grim story and region to date. These entries featured a cultish group of people who essentially brainwashed N, who would serve as the protagonist's rival throughout the game.
For the first time in the series, you wouldn’t face the champion of the Elite Four the first time around, but instead you would face N in some battle of epic proportions. And you would have to fight him while he is using the opposite Legendary Pokémon of your game. This fight would also take place after you face your own game's legendary. The pace of the whole game seems odd.
It is definitely evident that these games were an experiment with some different aspects, but I don’t think they were well executed and it was more jarring than enjoyable.
9 Best: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue/ Red Rescue Team
Tired of playing a trainer taking care of Pokémon? Then jump into the Mystery Dungeon series where you don’t train Pokémon, you ARE the Pokémon. I have to give it up to the first installments in the series for setting the bar so damn high.
This type of dungeon crawling gameplay was uncharted territory for the Pokémon series and it managed to deliver one of the best games in the all of the Pokémon mythos. It was fun, full of character, and, at times, incredibly challenging; especially when trying to climb a 99-floor dungeon with only three items and all your team members being dropped back to level one.
This game provides some of the most difficult challenges available in any Pokémon game and allows for the collection of ever single Pokémon up until the 3rd generation, giving you a lofty goal that can be worked on long after the completion of the games’ lengthy story.
8 Worst: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates To Infinity
As I just made clear, Mystery Dungeon was a series that started off strong, but it took a big hit with this installment. Up until this entry came out, all other entries featured every Pokémon created up to the point of its release. This couldn’t be further from the truth when Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity was released.
Sadly, this gameonly had 144 of the possible 649 Pokémon. It also feels like everything you do is just a chore. It fails to excite at every turn and even the game's “surprise” twist could be seen coming from a mile away. The only positive that can be given to this game is the 3D art style they used for it as opposed to the 2D style of previous titles.
7 Best: Pokémon Sun & Moon
Now we come to the most recent addition to the main series of Pokémon games. It was also the first time we saw a break in the formula that the games had become known for over the past two decades.
We were treated to a fresh-faced foray into a fun and friendly world. Gone were the badges, gyms, and traditional style that we were used to. These games weren’t afraid to pioneer a new way to play Pokémon and it paid off, as Pokémon Sun & Moon became a quick hit with the players.
Its new focus on story-telling and actual character development helped to distinguish it from the rest of the pack. Of course, it has its flaws as do all games, but in a few years when we look back on these two games, we will see how truly impactful they were.
6 Worst: Pokémon Battle Revolution
This was the closest thing we got to a new Pokémon Stadium game in six years and, while the updated visuals and pretty graphics were nice, they were no substitute for the great memories we had when playing the first two Pokémon Stadium games.
Perhaps the biggest and pretty much gamebreaking feature that this game had was its connection to Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Without both Pokémon Battle Revolution and one of the 4th generation titles, there is very little leading the player to want to play.
Since it has been over a decade since these games released, it is also unlikely that most people will have the required materials needed to play. Whereas all that’s required for Pokémon Stadium and its sequel to work is the cartridges and the patience to get them to work. Speaking of Pokémon Stadium…
5 Best: Pokémon Stadium 2
The sequel to the much-loved Pokémon Stadium brought us right back into the 3D world of Pokémon combat. Pokémon Stadium 2 featured most of the same features as its predecessor, while adding the new advancements of the second generation of Pokémon.
It packs in just as much fun and friendship-ruining competitiveness as the original, with some updates. All the new Pokémon join the original 151 and you must now make your way through the new Johto Gym Leader Castle and the Stadium mode. Just as with the handheld games, you will also be tasked with defeating the original eight gym leaders once you topple the Johto League. This is just another reason why the second generation holds a special place in those who have been there since the beginning of it all.
4 Worst: Hey You, Pikachu!
I can appreciate what Nintendo was trying to do with this game. My problem is with its delivery and the fact that it breeds more frustration then enjoyment in its players.
The use of a microphone to tell a virtual creature what to do was years ahead of its time and that deserves to be commended. However, it would have been great had it done what it was supposed to. Instead of Pikachu doing what you told him, he would often give you a blank confused stare, leading you to repeat yourself about a hundred times.
It’s an understatement to say it’s frustrating and you will spend more time trying to get Pikachu to do basic commands instead of progressing the story in some way. Had this game been made today, it wouldn’t have been one of the first to do it, but the more advanced technology could have provided a better gameplay experience.
3 Best: Pokémon Red & Blue
The ones that started it all, Pokémon Red & Blue are the first games in the series and the ones that began our journey to catch ‘em all! While time has marched on and they have become obsolete in pretty much every way compared to the newer titles, their place in gaming history is legendary.
They provided us with great memories and, sadly at this point, most cartridges no longer work, making it nearly impossible to ever relive the exact experience we had as kids, but thankfully they were released onto the 3DS via the Nintendo eShop for Pokémon’s 20th anniversary.
Without the nostalgia goggles, this game is far from perfect with numerous glitches, small bag space, buggy gameplay and some pretty bad character art. Yet, despite all this, Red & Blue are still two of the most prominent releases in gaming history.
2 Worst: Pokémon GO
In the entire gaming world, there have never been such high aspirations and goals as there were with Niantic’s Pokémon GO. This game took the Pokémon games and sought to takes players one-step further towards being real Pokémon trainers.
I’ll go ahead and explain the problems that plagued this game, in case you have been living under a rock for the past year: Server issues, bugs, glitches, more server issues, deleted progress, freezing, more server issues, and the huge amount of time that it has taken for the company to fix the problems facing their players. If anything, the game lost its player base mostly due to their lack of solutions.
It may still be possible for the mobile game sensation turned pariah to have a resurgence in popularity and fame, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. So much potential down the drain, it really is tragic.
1 Best: Pokémon Gold & Silver
At the time everyone was still enjoying Pokemon Red & Blue, the bombshell was dropped that there would be a new game in the groundbreaking series called Pokémon Gold & Silver. This entry would take place in a brand new region with a cast of 100 new Pokémon to capture and train.
There were two new types added (Steel and Dark) and not only could you enjoy the new region, but these games boasted perhaps the best post game content of any game in the series to date.
Upon defeating the Elite Four of the Johto region, you could then make your way through the Kanto region all over again and play out a new story in the familiar territory. Gold and Silver are essentially two games in one and are still loved almost 20 years later. They also received the remake treatment in the form of HeartGold & SoulSilver in 2009.