It’s time to head out with your Pokeballs and console in hand, as we check out the best Pokemon Games on Nintendo Switch!
Since the first games in the series burst onto the scene – with Pokemon Red and Blue, on the original Game Boy in the mid 90s – the Pokemon titles have been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon.
Just check out our best Pokemon gifts for an idea of how much Pokemon merchandise is available (clue: it’s a lot!).
The Nintendo Switch has proven to be the perfect console to take the mainline series forward, too, with its hybrid nature allowing for the in-person trading and battling that was so important to the popularity of the handheld Pokemon games in the last few decades
Of course, there’s more than just the main series of Pokemon games available on the Switch.
Which ones are the best though?
Come with us, as we check out the best Pokemon games on the Nintendo Switch!
Table of Contents
1. Pokemon Legends: Arceus (2022)
An open world, 3D Pokemon game had long been a dream for Pokemon fans – one that hadn’t quite been realised in previous games.
Though Pokemon Sword and Shield introduced the fairly large, open world Wild Area, it still wasn’t the same as having a fully open world, non linear Pokemon adventure.
Which is where the fantastic Pokemon Legends: Arceus comes in.
Finally, here was a Pokemon game that promised and delivered free roaming Pokemon catching on an impressive scale!
Pokemon Legends: Arceus takes players on a trip back in time, to complete the Pokedex for the Hisui region – which closely resembles Japan in the 1800s.
Huge open world areas allow for Pokemon catching on a massively non-linear scale – but this lack of linearity also materialises in the form of numerous quests that your character is given. These are doled out regularly and can be completed in any order players wish.
Pokemon in Hisui are often wild and untamed, leading them to be able to attack the player directly rather than simply engage other Pokemon in battle.
Battling and catching Pokemon takes place in (mostly) real time, which is a further departure from the standard formula that the series is known for.
2. Pokemon Sword And Shield (2019)
The Pokemon series comes to a fictionalised UK in Pokemon Sword and Shield, which takes place in the Galar region.
As the first non-remake, mainline Pokemon games to arrive on Switch, Pokemon Sword and Shield had the huge weight of fan expectation bearing down on them – but they didn’t disappoint!
Initially introducing 81 new Pokemon (rising to 88 once the DLC is taken into account), Pokemon Sword and Shield brought lots of new creatures to the Pokedex too.
New features that debuted in Sword and Shield included Dynamaxing – which saw Pokemon able to significantly increase in size and ability – and Gigantamaxing, which changed certain Pokemon even further.
The Wild Area was also a big, new addition; here, Trainers could roam freely in a large, open world area which also contained the opportunity to take part in co-op raids against particularly tough Pokemon!
Though one major disappointment is that – for the first time in the series – not all prior Pokemon could be found or used in Pokemon Sword and Shield. This was a controversy that was blown out of proportion by a small, but vocal segment of the Pokemon fan base.
As Pokemon Sword and Shield is currently the fifth best selling game on Switch – with over 25 million units sold as of September 2022, also making it the second best selling mainline Pokemon game – it’s clear that the Pokemon series has lost none of its lustre in the nearly 30 years since it began!
3. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu And Let’s Go Eevee (2018)
The final remakes on our list of the best Pokemon games on Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee take us back to the very beginning of the Pokemon series.
That’s right – back to where it all began, with greatly enhanced versions of Pokemon Yellow (which itself was a slight enhancement of Pokemon Red and Blue).
Naturally, the first big change is the fact that players start the game with either Pikachu or Eevee, depending on the version played.
Motion controls when catching Pokemon have also been added; though this is a little divisive, it can be a much more immersive way to play.
Another great feature is co-operative, local multiplayer – making the game less of a challenge for younger players.
The Let’s Go titles also feature Pokemon Go connectivity.
There was even a special controller released, in the form of the Poke Ball Plus – which allowed players to tackle the entire game with a Poke Ball!
We at Retro Dodo have been big fans of the Pokemon games since the beginning, but it’s always good to bring new fans to the franchise. Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee are perfect entry points for new gamers.
4. New Pokemon Snap (2021)
While we’re on the subject of remakes, Nintendo 64 title Pokemon Snap – which originally released in 1999 – was a game that players were begging Nintendo to bring back for years.
A twist on on-rail shooters in which players are tasked with taking photos of Pokemon – rather than shooting them, of course – Pokemon Snap was a beloved one-off that many people had fond memories of.
Yet that’s not what we have here; New Pokemon Snap is actually a sequel to the original game!
New Pokemon Snap does, however, bring back the beloved on-rails gameplay and spruce it up quite a bit for modern players.
A neat photo retouching mode called Re-Snap even gives New Pokemon Snap a much more in-depth feel to its photograph.
Photos can even be shared online too!
If you do still have an appetite to play the original, it is available on the Switch – via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.
You can check out five other N64 classics available now in our N64 games on Switch article too!
5. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond And Shining Pearl (2021)
These remakes of fourth generation titles Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are a great exercise in nostalgia for players who fondly remember playing the DS originals.
Not only that, but they do also bring the games up to date with a new graphical style and enhancements – such as player customisation, Poke Ball stickers and even the ability to have one of your Pokemon follow your trainer as you explore.
A number of quality of life improvements also bring the original design up to date, but Pokemon Diamond and Shining Pearl hews closely to the story and structure of the original game.
The updated, cutesy visuals proved a bit divisive but – just as with Pokemon Scarlet and Violet – the games performed well commercially. As of June 2022, close to 15 million units have been sold worldwide!
Not bad for games that were originally released 15 years before the remakes!
6. Pokemon Scarlet And Violet (2022)
Though not the most technically sound of games – to say the least – Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s ambition hits the mark more often than not.
The first entries in the ninth generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet feature impressive open worlds and non-linear gameplay.
They feature stories that players can tackle in any order they choose (with a fourth story unlocking after the first three are completed).
Other new elements include ‘Terastallized’ Pokemon – which gives creatures a crystalline look – along with a ‘Let’s Go’ mechanic, three new starter Pokemon, two legendaries and lots more new Pokemon too.
For those not in the know, the Let’s Go feature allows Trainers can send Pokemon off on their own to battle Pokemon in the wild!
It may have got off to a bit of a rough start (with critics at least – sales have been through the roof as normal), but Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s gameplay thankfully shines through the technical drawbacks to bring us another excellent mainline Pokemon game.
Read our full review: Pokemon Scarlet & Violet Review
7. Pokken Tournament DX (2017)
Pokemon battles have been a staple of the series from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until we got 2015 arcade title Pokken Tournament that we had a game based entirely around Pokemon fights.
Pokken Tournament – which mashes up ‘Pokemon’ and ‘Tekken’ for the first word of its title as well as its gameplay – is a genuinely excellent fighting game. It sold well on the Wii U, but to a limited audience due to the console’s low market penetration.
The Switch version – which adds new characters, modes and even splitscreen multiplayer – ensured that Pokken Tournament was able to reach a much bigger customer base, finally getting the recognition and audience that it deserves.
8. Pokemon Unite (2021)
Typical, isn’t it? You wait ages for a free to play Pokemon game and then three come along at once!
Like Pokemon Quest and Pokemon Cafe ReMix, Pokemon Unite launched on Switch just before it came to Android and iOS.
Though – a bit like Pokemon Quest – Pokemon Unite has been criticised for its microtransactions (some of which are individual characters that are ludicrously expensive), it’s actually an incredibly fun and highly competitive Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game.
Two teams of five players battle for dominance, with each player starting with a low level Pokemon that grows in strength and ability over the course of a ten minute game. Points are scored by defeating wild Pokemon as well as Pokemon on the opposing team.
There’s currently 45 playable Pokemon on offer in Pokemon Unite. Given that the game launched with just 21, it’s very likely that the ongoing popularity of Pokemon Unite will see this number significantly increasing!
It’s hugely competitive and has even proven to be a popular eSport – the first Unite Championship Series title was held in London in August 2022!
9. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX (2020)
The Mystery Dungeon games go back a lot further than you may realise, with 1993 SNES game Torneko’s Great Adventure: Mystery Dungeon being the first title in the series.
A spin-off of the Dragon Quest games initially, Mystery Dungeon games are roguelike adventures. They see players trying to survive randomly generated dungeons using turn-based movement and combat mechanics.
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games see players in the role of a human transformed into a Pokemon, taking on jobs that usually involve battling through randomised dungeons.
This Switch entry is a remake of the first titles in the series: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, combining elements of both of the original DS games.
10. Pokemon Cafe ReMix (2020)
Despite being another free to play title, Pokemon Cafe ReMix – originally named Pokemon Cafe Mix – is a fun puzzle experience.
In Pokemon Cafe ReMix, you run the titular eatery. Your job is to create menu items based on orders your Pokemon customers give you.
It’s a touchscreen only game, so you won’t be able to play it on the big screen. But the puzzle-based action – which sees you matching Pokemon faces as you drag them across the stage – is addictive and cleverly designed.
It’s all wrapped up in an appealingly cartoony art style too. Pokemon Cafe ReMix might lack the depth and scope of many Pokemon games, but it can proudly sit aside other Pokemon puzzle games such as Pokemon Trozei and Pokemon Puzzle League as an excellent use of the Pokemon license.
11. Pokemon Quest (2018)
Though it came to Switch shortly before Android and iOS, Pokemon Quest is a free to play game that feels like a mobile title – and isn’t quite the RPG that its title may have you believe it is.
In Pokemon Quest, players attract Pokemon to their camp site by cooking recipes for food that each creature likes.
Gathering ingredients happens by taking teams of Pokemon on expeditions, where they’ll fight waves of wild Pokemon in brief battle stages.
It’s fun at first, with quests and their rewards being simple to complete and doled out pretty quickly.
Yet soon enough, timers and costs increase to the point where it’s clear that Pokemon Quest wants you to spend real money on its microtransactions, which can become pretty frustrating.
It’s a shame that the in-game economy is tuned this way. Despite, or perhaps because of the simplicity of Pokemon Quest’s gameplay loop, it’s pretty fun and has a nice, unusually square, Minecraft-esque look to its world and the characters.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.