Pinpoint your nearest Poke Mart; it’s time to check out the best Pokemon games of all time!
Ok, so this was no easy task; there are so many incredible Pokemon games that have dropped over the years across Nintendo’s many consoles.
From Red and Blue all the way back in 1996 to modern 3D marvels that make your eyes pop out, we’ve been on some incredible journeys with Pika and his pals, and the fun doesn’t look set to stop any time soon.
Still, we’re concerning ourselves only with those greats that came before, the titles that have shaped generations and kept Pokefans happy on long journeys and cold Winter’s nights.
So, without further ado, let’s check out the best Pokemon games of all time and find out which titles influenced Brandon and I on our mission to become super nerds.
I think we achieved that goal a long time ago.
21. Pokemon Sword & Shield (2021)
Pokemon Sword & Shield kick off this list of the best Pokemon games of all time!
I know it’s a weird one kicking off with such a new game, and while Sword and Shield don’t disappoint and provide a great gaming experience, they just don’t cut the mustard compared to other games in the series.
Leave the hatemail, it’s the truth.
Don’t get me wrong though, they still have tonnes of merits. Just delve into the Wild Area for the first time to experience that for yourself first hand!
I’ve always loved the 3D Pokemon games ever since Pokemon Colosseum dropped for the GameCube, and seeing Pokemon walking around on the big screen while wandering through epic worlds and exploring hidden nooks and crannies on your bike never gets old.
If I’m being honest, however, Hop makes this title so damn annoying. He’s a cocky mother… well, he’s just annoying and doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.
Hold berries, cook and camp to become better friends with your Pokemon, and download exciting DLC content without Hop in it… which is the best bit by far!
20. Pokemon Trading Card Game (1998)
How many of you have played the Pokemon Trading Card Game? It’s one of the most addictive games I had for the GBC and also a highly underrated title.
Ok, not everyone thinks so.
The Saudi Arabian government banned it because of its irrefutable links to Zionism…
Call me naive, but I’m still unsure what Pikachu and fire trainer cards have to do with the Jewish state…
The premise is still the same as the main RPG series; battle gym leaders, or in this case Club Masters, and then take on four Grand Masters (aka The Elite Four).
And this is a much cheaper day of collecting and owning all of the different original Pokemon cards. It’s basically got the same appeal to me as Pokemon Snap, an alternative game from the main series that still packs a punch while keeping a cult, obviously super-cool following.
19. Pokemon Pinball (1999)
Pokemon Pinball takes the 18th spot in this list of the best Pokemon games of all time.
So the only way to make Pokemon ever more exciting would be to turn it into a pinball game, right?
Send Pokeballs hurtling around different Pokemon-themed courses, racking up massive scores and interacting with Pokemon along the way.
I mean, who wouldn’t want a game where you can play on a blue or red themed table, bashing Psyduck and careering round Mewtwo until you pop out of Bellsprout’s mouth.
It sounds like the best dream ever. You’re playing to capture Pokemon in a spinning Pokeballs, eventually evolving them. It doesn’t take much brain power to tackle and is a great ‘in-between game’ if you’re stuck on a specific section in something more taxing.
18. Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs (2010)
It’s time to delve into Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs, a game that sees rangers trying to stop poachers called ‘Pokemon Pinchers’ from nabbing pocket monsters.
That was a strange sentence to write!
Things take a turn for the worse when your companion gets nabbed by the Pinchers. Can you work together with the Pokemon to change your fortune and save the day?
I hope so, otherwise it’s going to be a short game!
If you’ve played any of the other Pokemon Ranger games before, then this title will feel very familiar indeed. It’s my second favourite of the bunch, though the fighting style of all the games might be a little cumbersome to grasp at first.
To attack, draw circles with a stylus around the enemy Pokemon until it’s health goes to zero.
From a ukulele wielding Pichu to Pokemon cutting down bushes to help you along the the way, Guardian Signs feels like a crossover title with just enough main-series pull to appeal to everyone.
17. Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness (2005)
There’s a strong chance that you’re going to see Pokemon Colosseum further down this list, but its sequel Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness is up first, comfortably taking the 16th spot.
This is one of the best Pokemon games for players that like a touch of darkness.
Ok, so it’s not exactly Dark Souls, but the storyline makes it feel a little more cutesy than other titles in the series.
Heal the spirits of Shadow Pokemon, use Shadow moves, and free captured creatures from enemy control.
So who’s the main prize that everyone wants to have in this game then?
Shadow Lugia… oh yeahhhh! It’s really hard to capture though, so be prepared to take a long time trying.
Delve into a purification chamber or walk around to purify the souls of captured pokemon. It’s a 3D game with touches of the original RPG series and a heavy Pokemon Stadium battle feel.
16. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team (2005)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team are up next, two games that are as far from the main Red & Blue format that you could possibly get.
What would happen if you took away the trainers and gym leaders and had Pokemon ruling the roost?
Well, that’s kind of the premise in this game, except that you play as a human turned into a Pokemon, moving in and out of dungeons to rescue Pokemon in distress.
Now I know what you’re thinking; it’ll never work.
Well, it does, and it’s surprisingly addictive too. Instead of controlling different Pokemon by pulling them into battle, you play as a single Pokemon and attack in turn-based fights on the existing map.
Deliver items, rescue Pokemon, and battle through dungeons. It’s as though Sonic and Link teamed up to make this game happen…
15. New Pokemon Snap (2021)
If you spent any amount of time playing the original Pokemon Snap, then the New Pokemon Snap game for Nintendo Switch should feel like Christmas has come every single day of the year.
The concept is exactly the same, though the levels, Pokemon, graphics, and basically everything else about it looks and feels better.
Still, the old version has a special place in any heart (as you’re going to find out soon).
If you’re into the idea of collecting Pokemon pictures for a Photodex rather than capturing critters for your Pokedex, then jump right in.
See Pokemon in their natural habitats, use fruit to lure them in, and take amazing pictures for the Professor back in base.
Move one way through a level, repeating it multiple times to get the right shot each time. It’s a game of patience and timing, which means the stressed out amongst you may not get on with it so well!
14. Pokemon Colosseum (2003)
Pokemon Colosseum drops into the 13th spot in our list of the best Pokemon games.
In the same way that it’s always more fun to play as Darth Vader in Star Wars: Battlefront, the idea of stealing other people’s Pokemon is kind of appealing.
We’ve all tried to capture a trainer’s Pokemon before now, but now that’s the very premise of the game.
Instead of snagging Pokemon from civilians, however, you play as a reformed member of Team Snagem who is freeing trapped critters from his former associates.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Colosseum and Pokemon Stadium are the same though. Ok, so there are some similarities, but there’s way more emphasis on the actual 3D story gameplay in this game, not just battling.
This is a bona fide Pokeventure with a cracking multiplayer mode to play with friends couch-co-op style. Move your critters from Ruby or Sapphire over to your team and battle to be the very best.
13. Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (2008)
Ready for another Pokemon Ranger game? Pokemon Ranger: Shadows Of Almia just tips Guardian Signs for me.
Once again, gamers play as a Pokemon Ranger. As the second game of the series, players control a Ranger just out of school that’s been thrust into the thick of it by trying to solve why Pokemon are all acting so weird.
There’s always an evil team in these games, and this time it’s the turn of Team Dim Sum.
The same rules apply as the game we spoke about above. Move through the region of Almia, circling Pokemon through 60 quests as you collect monsters and add them to your team.
There are over 250 Pokemon to capture and tame, releasing their minds from Dim Sum’s control and saving the region!
It’s all in the work of a humble Pokemon Ranger!
12. Pokemon Snap (1999)
Pokemon Snap takes the 11th spot in this list of the best Pokemon games of all time!
The New game might be making waves with modern gamers, but you still can’t beat the classics in humble opinion.
Ok, so when this first came out, a lot of people thought it was just another money-making Pokemon fad. But to be honest, everyone loved this move away from the typical battle-catch-run to Poke Centre format.
Travel on a railroad through multiple Pokemon habitats. Pokemon Island is filled with all your favourite beasts to monitor in the natural environments, messing around in forests or relaxing on beaches.
Sounds idyllic, right?
Get Pokemon into the best position and snap them for Prof Oak. Your camera can only hold 60 photos per level, however, so snap wisely!
11. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee (2018)
Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee are remakes of the original Pokemon Red and Blue game, and mad does this game look and feel amazing.
Acting as sort of an amalgamation between Pokemon Go and Sword and Shield, the Let’s Go games add modern features to the classic Kanto story that we all know and love.
Talk to Caterpie man, swim around Cinnabar Island, and capture all of the legendary birds to wield against the Elite 4.
Thanks to Nintendo’s hybrid handheld, gamers can either wield a Joycon to capture Pokemon or even enlist the help of a Pokeball controller, one of the best Pokemon gifts of 2021!
Of course, playing handheld is fun too, but who doesn’t want to almost smash their TV screen with a Pokeball?
For fans of the original GameBoy games, this title is an absolute must have. Experience the adventure in HD and see how it would have looked if it came out today.
10. Pokemon X & Y (2010)
Pokemon X & Y take the 8th spot in this list of the best Pokemon games of all time!
They’re also the first ever 3D rendered Pokemon games too and brought the option of customising the main player with new outfits and looks, something we’ve all spent far too long on while playing Sword and Shield.
Listen, the formula is pretty similar in all of the main RPG games. Move through a region collecting Pokemon and gathering information for your Pokedex.
The main difference that separates this title from the crowd are the battle styles and new type of Pokemon entering the fray.
Players can now take part in horde battles and sky battles, and Fairy Pokemon make an appearance for the first time.
Mega Evolutions were first introduced in X & Y as well. It’s a game of firsts, that’s for sure, with lots of other new features such as new training styles and ways to bond with Pokemon that have never before been seen by trainer, ranger, or rocket member!
9. Pokemon Sun & Moon (2016)
Pokemon Sun & Moon take the 7th spot in this list of the best Pokemon games of all time!
Whether you’ve been a die-hard Pokemon fan since 1996 or first heard about them in 2016, Sun and Moon are two games that are both simple to play and easy to grasp, and both are jam-packed full of exciting Pokemon to discover.
And for a change, the travel to gym, beat gym, become champion formula has been ousted for a different approach.
Sun and Moon are more about learning how your Pokemon tick, what makes them unique, and the mysteries of the wider world.
Some of the Pokemon from these two games have featured in the Smash Bros games of late. Pokemon just seem to get everywhere, don’t they!
Listen, I think that these games are every bit as good as Red and Blue (if not better, which is why they’re higher in the list), Perfectly made, exciting gameplay, and they look great with the 3D mode turned on!
8. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness & Time (2007)
It’s time for some more Pokexploration with two more games – Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness & Time!
Like mountain rescue teams, our talking Pokemon are once more delving into hard to reach places to search for Pokemon in distress.
The catch, you’re also a talking Pokemon once again, and you’ve got to try and figure out what caused you to transform at the same time.
Unlike the normal RPGs where you pick your starter Pokemon, your Pokemon is picked for you after you complete a personality test.
It’s not just a case of saying that you’re hot headed and like dragons either. It’s pretty intricate stuff.
Discover mysterious artefacts, collect treasure chests, and find over 495 Pokemon including legendary characters to join your team!
7. Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Pokemon Legends: Arceus was a pleasant suprised when it landed on our desks. Not knowing how an open world Pokemon game would feel, we were a little hesitant, but just a few hours in and learning the ways of the new mechanics, we were in love.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus feels like Zelda: Breath of the Wild but with the incredible Pokemon catch mechanics.
The world, is indeed open world, and even though the graphics aren’t “next-gen” you get a sense of vastness and the Pokemon are scattered around making you want to keeping finding rare or even shiny pocket monsters.
The storyline is great too with many mysteries to be solved that end in a glorious discover alongside some very memorable characters and new magical Pokemon to discover.
It’s Pokemon’s attempt at spicing up the Pokemon franchise, and we can whole heartedly say, they have done just that, and we can’t seem to put it down, hence why we have so many Pokemon Legends: Arceus guides on our site!
If you want a new way to play Pokemon, then this is the game for you, it’s truly incredible.
6. Pokemon Red & Blue (1996)
And when you’ve done that, head back and play the original Pokemon Red & Blue for nostalgic vibes!
Man, back in the day when we all thought these would always be the best Pokemon games, it was hard to believe that anything could top them.
Before Gigantamax battles and berries were even a notion, we didn’t think anything could be better than Red/Blue and Gary trekking across Kanto.
I can still remember the moment that I picked up my bicycle on this game for the very first time. The music is so memorable too; good… good times.
The main difference between this and Pokemon Let’s Go (ok, one of the main differences) is that there’s no Safari Zone in Let’s Go.
The Safari Zone was one of my favourite parts about this, catching Scyther and Kangaskhan using Safari balls felt so intense!
5. Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire (2014)
Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire share a respectable 5th position in our best Pokemon games compendium, enhancing the classic Ruby and Sapphire games for the GBA back in 2002.
So what’s happened in the 12 years between these two games?
Well, play still happens through the Hoenn region, though there have been some significant upgrades to the game mechanics and Pokédex entires, as well as evolutionary statuses.
Some Pokemon have had major redesigns since you last saw them and as well as Primal Reversions, Mega Evolutions are now part of the game.
You’ve still got to get all the badges and take on the Elite Four. don’t worry; some things don’t change. Team Magma are the ones causing all the problems this time.
Explore new unlockable areas, delve into the Battle Resort (formally the Battle Tower), and blast the 3D mode for that extra oomph.
4. Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (2006)
Pokemon Diamond & Pearl slip seamlessly into 4th place in our list. Commonly referred to as the best Pokemon games on the DS, this adventure into the world of the Sinnoh region brought 107 new Pokemon to the mix.
And, as the first games with online play and WiFi battles, they were a major deal!
The premise is the same as always. The evil Team this time is Team Galactic, and there are legendary Pokemon to find and capture once again.
Pearl and Diamond brought more side-quests into the mix, parts that have become main features in the series from here on out.
And, in true Pokemon fashion, key elements of the previous games make a comeback like the impressive Pokemon Contests…
… basically like Crufts for Pokemon…
Compete with the passing of hours and battle through day and night, searching for Pokemon that only arrive at certain times. It’s a wholly immersive experience and one that compliments the series as a whole perfectly.
3. Pokemon Platinum (2008)
Pokemon Platinum takes the third spot in this list of the best Pokemon games of all time!
The DS played host to a tonne of incredible Pokemon games. It was a legendary era for the Pokemon Company and also marked a whole host of GBC and GBA re-releases.
If you enjoyed Diamond and Pearl above, then Platinum will definitely be of interest. It’s essentially an upgraded version with a whole new set of areas to explore and an exciting secondary form for the mighty Giratina.
As far as the format goes, it’s back to the same trusty gym to champion road to victory. Catch and train Pokemon, then box them without a second thought after you catch better ones.
Don’t feel bad, we all do it.
Some of the common features that we play all the time now such as Poke-themed mini games and dual battles featured in this classic, as well as the iconic global trading system.
Let’s face it; if you’ve played Diamond and Pearl, you might as well give this a go next!
2. Pokemon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon (2017)
Who fancies a trip back into the Alola region? Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon certainly look pretty impressive and have some nice scenery; I sure wouldn’t mind venturing through here!
So, there’s a new mystery to solve, and it comes in the form of the Pokemon Necrozoma.
Players need to figure out the secrets behind two of its new forms: Pokemon Ultra Sun’s Dusk Mane Necrozoma, and Pokemon Ultra Moon’s Dawn Wings Necrozoma.
Come on, Pikachu; we’ve up. We’ve got stuff to do!
More Pokemon await, as do epic trainer battles with stunning graphics the 3DS. Honestly, the attacks look so good with the 3D mode cranked up that you’ll be jumping out of the way of Hyrdo Pumps and Sand Attacks before you know it!
1. Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver (2009)
Yes, folks, Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver rightfully take the top spot in our list of the best Pokemon games!
We all remember when Pokemon Gold and Silver dropped back in 1999. They exceeded all expectations (a little like swots at Hogwarts).
Well, HeartGold and SoulSilver polished these classic games and gave them the dual-screen treatment 10 years later, supercharging them with new graphics, features, and game mechanics that made them 10-times better.
Don’t worry; the core stories are still the same, but features like the clunky menu system have been updated and modern features such as online trading were brought into the fold.
Let’s not forget Lugia and Ho-Oh who both now look very regal, if they don’t mind me saying.
These are two of my favourite legendaries, Pokemon that still feel rare and impressive and worth spending all ay trying to catch.
Plus with Pokemon BrilliantDiamond and ShiningPearl coming the Nintendo Switch, there’s no better time to go back and relive these epic adventures!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.