pokemon ash and pikachu
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All Pokemon Regions, Ranked

Your Pokemon journey awaits

Just like the real world, the Pokemon world is split into a variety of different regions. These regions come with a variety of different biomes and ecosystems. Travel from Galar to Alola and you’ll see plenty of different Pokemon, but which are the best? Here’s our ranking of every mainline Pokemon region from the games.

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10. Sinnoh

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond City
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

This is bound to raise some eyebrows, as the Sinnoh games (Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum) are often considered some of the best of them all. Champion Cynthia in particular is one of the most powerful Pokemon trainers in the franchise. Despite this, the Sinnoh region, which is inspired by the Japanese island of Hokkaido, leaves a lot to be desired.

First of all, we have to consider type diversity. The Sinnoh games introduced some fantastic Pokemon like Lucario, Garchomp, and Torterra, but several types are barely represented. Pokemon Diamond is particularly notorious for featuring only two fire-type Pokemon lines in the entire game, namely Rapidash and Infernape.

This lack of diversity carries over into the parties of your opponents. In Diamond and Pearl, two Gym Leaders and three members of the Elite Four use Pokemon outside their type specialty. While this is largely remedied in Platinum, two members of the Elite Four, Aaron and Bertha, still utilize other types.

Sinnoh also isn’t quite as diverse as some of the other regions. While the idea to split the region into two by a mountain is interesting, in practice there isn’t really much difference between east and west. One Pokemon species, the Shellos line, is a different color, but the change is purely cosmetic.

However, Sinnoh’s importance to the wider Pokemon world can’t be overstated. Sinnoh is rich in history, and the preferred region of Arceus, the creator of the Pokemon world. Despite this, it’d take some time for Arceus to be the focus of a game in its own right.

9. Galar

Pokemon Sword throwing a pokeball in a snowy region
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

The very British Galar region has a very British problem – the lack of so many beloved Pokemon. A Pokedexit, if you will. Pokemon Sword and Shield have plenty of variety in terms of typing, but many Pokemon simply aren’t obtainable. This includes fan-favorites such as Bulbasaur and Nidoking. While this does encourage players to experiment, a lot of the new Pokemon designs leave a lot to be desired. There are a few wonderful creatures, such as Toxtricity and Frosmoth, but also plenty of underwhelming and overly gimmicky creations. Has anyone sincerely said the sentence “My favorite Pokemon is Falinks”?

The Galar region is fairly diverse, with Glimwood Tangle in particular being a beautiful fairytale forest. It also gets points for introducing the first open-world area to the Pokemon franchise. The Wild Area is to Pokemon what Hyrule Field is to Zelda. However, it isn’t as interesting as other open worlds in the franchise, and can lead to areas feeling disconnected.

Galar’s culture when it comes to Pokemon battles is unique. Whereas the anime has always treated Pokemon training as a sport, with televised events and championships, Galar leans into this aspect whole-heartedly. Not a single gym battle goes by without an audience in the hundreds or thousands. Even the villainous Team Star are based on football hooligans, obsessively following your rival Marnie and obstructing other trainers in their own journeys. Even the Elite Four is replaced with a tournament, with trainers facing each other – and Gym Leaders – just like a soccer tournament.

8. Kalos

Pokemon X desert with structure
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

Kalos marked the first step into Europe, being based on France. Pokemon X and Y took the biggest graphical leap of them all, going 3D for the first time.

On paper, Kalos is an amazing and diverse region, filled with plenty of wonderful Pokemon. The French inspiration is apparent in the architecture, which includes buildings of French landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles.

Outside of that, there are plenty of wonderful and whimsical areas to explore, from a Pokemon gym where the physics are twisted to a cave filled with natural mirrors. Trainers journeying through Kalos have perhaps the easiest time of them all. Gym Leaders and Elite Four members alike use small teams, with only the Champion, Diantha, utilizing a full team of six.

7. Johto

Pokemon Heart Gold Ecruteak City
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

Johto is based on Japan’s Kansai region, with a strong focus on traditional Japanese architecture. However, the region falls flat at points – as amazing as games set within the region are.

While Johto’s selection of Pokemon is fairly diverse, it still falls short of later generations. Steel and Dark types, in particular, are a rarity. Bafflingly, several Pokemon native to the region are entirely absent from it.

Part of the Johto region’s strange issues with identity comes from its close ties to the neighboring Kanto region. While Johto has a rich history and mythology all its own, the two regions share a league, and many Johto gym leaders utilize primarily Kanto Pokemon. As a result, at times Johto feels like an extension, and not a full-fledged region in its own right.

Despite this, there’s plenty to recommend the Johto region. The region has plenty of vibrant cities, rich culture, and plenty of charming areas and landscapes, whether you’re climbing pagodas or radio towers.

6. Unova

Pokemon Black bridge with Castelia City
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

The Unova region, based on New York, is arguably the biggest of all regions found in the franchise’s DS titles. It’s so big, in fact, that when the game received sequels it introduced new cities and Gyms to tackle. While other regions give us the sense that we’ve seen everything, in Unova we always feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Among the notable areas in Unova are Castelia City – at the time the largest in the entire franchise – and Giant Chasm, the crater of a massive meteor that struck the region millennia ago.

The Unova region deserves some bonus points for one reason in particular. In Black and White, only Pokemon native to the region are available before defeating the Elite Four. This forces you to experiment with new party members. Unfortunately, only a handful of Pokemon, such as Volcarona, Ferrothorn, and Chandalure, have lasted the test of time.

The Gym Leaders and Elite Four have diverse typing, but like Kalos’ Gym Leaders and Elite Four, fight with limited teams. However, these professional trainers are stronger than Kalos’, utilizing strong Pokemon and clever tactics. As such, trainers traveling through the region have a big challenge ahead of them.

5. Kanto

Pokemon Fire Red Pallet Town
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

Kanto, the original region, suffers a little from overexposure. Ask most people to think of a location in the Pokemon world, they’ll likely think of one in Kanto.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Kanto doesn’t have plenty to offer. Based on the Kanto region of Japan, there are a variety of different settings and plenty of the most popular Pokemon. Kanto also has likely the most iconic and beloved Gym Leaders of them all, Brock and Misty. Both starred in the anime for multiple seasons, traveling alongside hero Ash.

However, being so early does come at a cost when it comes to type diversity. Two types are represented by just a single family of Pokemon, and three members of the Elite Four utilize Pokemon outside their designated type. However, this is forgivable given the fact that this is the region that started the franchise off.

Kanto suffers a little in the sense that, at the time of its creation, Pokemon itself wasn’t well-defined. References are made to a number of real-world locations, such as America and Guyana. This early-installment weirdness makes it feel slightly at odds with the greater world. However, this region still has a special place in our hearts, and plenty of iconic locations such as the Pokemon Tower.

4. Hisui

Pokemon Legends Arceus trainer and Bidoof in a field
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

Pokemon Legends: Arceus’s Hisui region does away with a lot of the staples of the Pokemon franchise. In fact, it’s more accurate to call it a spin-off. However, the introduction of new Pokemon forms earns it a place on the list.

Hisui, a region that would later become Sinnoh, is an untamed region, mostly made up of vast tracts of wilderness. Settlements are few and far between, but the areas you’ll explore cover a wide range of climates. Hisui takes the open world introduced in Pokemon Sword and Shield to the next level, with far greater verticality and things to explore, whether we’re racing between islands, exploring underground caves, or climbing mountains.

The game also has a lot of variety in terms of typing – ironic, considering how sparse some types are in the Sinnoh games – and revamps everything from battles to status effects. As such, while the Sinnoh region is among the most underwhelming of them all, Hisui easily stands out from the crowd in many ways.

Culturally, Hisui’s setting in the past means Pokemon aren’t fully understood. This is the first game where Pokemon themselves can be dangerous, and you’ll always need to keep your eye out in case of an attack. This helps Hisui stand out as a dangerous region and makes any trip feel more like an adventure than ever before.

3. Paldea

Pokemon Scarlet Paldea Region
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

Paldea, based on Spain, is a massive and wonderfully diverse region. From vast deserts to snowy mountaintops to modern cities to a mysterious crater, Paldea has it all. Even better, it’s an open world, and you can travel across the entire map with barely a loading screen.

Paldea, as with some of the later regions, plays with the established formula of the Pokemon games. Aspiring trainers join an academy – who knew math lessons existed in the Pokemon world? – and as part of their studies take part in an independent study, the Treasure Hunt, which tasks them with doing whatever they want and finding their purpose. In the player’s case, this means taking part in three separate questlines that will take them all across the region, before a fourth takes them to the mysterious Area Zero at the heart of the region. This more laid-back attitude offers plenty of opportunities for any trainer. Judging by the fact that plenty of students are visibly in their old age, it appears many people travel to Paldea for this reason.

Paldea has a variety of challenges, but its wide space can lead to some confusion for new trainers. Logically, it should be possible to travel through the gyms in any order, given the more free-wheeling attitude Paldea takes to Pokemon. In reality, each Gym is designed to be challenged in a set order. However, the emphasis on personal choice and giving every student a chance to define their own journey adds a certain charm to Paldea.

2. Hoenn

Pokemon Omega Ruby flying on a Latios
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

Hoenn is by far the best of the early-generation regions. Based on Kyushu, in the south of Japan, the region has been criticized for the abundance of water, but that’s far from all it has to offer. From a space center to laid-back retirement communities to ancient ruins, Hoenn has plenty of different locations to explore.

Hoenn has plenty of diverse types, including some that are rare in the preceding generations. As such, any trainer’s journey through the region will see them meet a large variety of Pokemon they can collect.

Culturally, there’s a strong focus on environmentalism, and many of the region’s settlements take advantage of nature without adapting it. Sootopolis is built inside a crater, and only accessible through underwater caves. Fortree City, meanwhile, has people live in tree houses and move around using rope bridges, rather than harm the environment. This helps give Hoenn its own unique identity while preserving the region’s natural beauty.

1. Alola

Pokemon Ultra Sun Solgaleo in a desert
Image Source: The Pokemon Company and Nintendo

The Alola region is based on Hawaii, with five diverse islands to explore, one of which is manmade. Your journey through the region will see you explore laid-back cities, vibrant jungles, volcanoes, and deserts. Most importantly, of course, you’ll come across a host of creatures.

Alola features a plethora of beautifully designed Pokemon. Alola also introduced the concept of regional forms: alternate versions of existing Pokemon with different typings. It’s a simple concept that feels like a natural extension of the world. In reality, a regional form is functionally no different from a new Pokemon. However, it does let trainers utilize old favorites in a new way.

Alola’s unique culture sees it eschew a traditional Pokemon League in favor of the Island Challenge. This rite of passage sees trainers explore the region, taking on Totem Pokemon, Trial Captains, and Island Kahunas. It gives Alola a distinct identity of its own, with boss battles covering a variety of types. If you want something more traditional, you’ll eventually face the Elite Four, giving the story a fitting, and traditional, climax.

Want more on Pokemon? Here’s our list of the cutest Dark-type Pokemon. You can also take our quiz to see which starter Pokemon you are!


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Author
Lewis Rees
Lewis is an author and journalist based in Wales. His first novel, Wander, came out in 2017. Lewis is passionate about games, and has travelled to events worldwide to host and present panels at games conferences. In his spare time he loves reading, writing, and escape rooms.