Dash -Tasking players with guiding Pikachu to the finish line with flicks of your DS stylus, Pokemon Dash comes in at the bottom of the list. While it may have been the first DS ‘Pokemon’ game, endless scrubbing of your touchscreen and the repetitive gameplay made this one to avoid, and the worst Pokemon game to date.
Ranch – My Pokemon Ranch was less a game and more a more interactive version of today’s Pokemon Bank feature. You could take pictures with your Pokemon and Miis, and that really was about it. Not worth even the most dedicated trainers’ time.
Rumble U – Turning the cuddly creatures into toy versions of themselves, Rumble U then pits these wind-up toys against one another in battle. Unfortunately, the game lacked any real depth with you just mashing two buttons to perform attacks.
Battle Revolution – The fact that Battle Revolution made use of the Wii and DS’ wireless connectivity wasn’t enough to make this bare bones successor to Pokemon Stadium worthwhile buying. It lacked any real value other than seeing your team fighting on the big screen, rather than on your handheld.
Explorers of Sky and Dream Radar – With a score of 54 over on Metacritic we have Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky and Dream Radar. Explorers of Sky’s story was boring and didn’t vary much from Explorers of Time/ Darkness, the games it was supposed to be the ‘complete edition’ of. What’s more, the gameplay itself was far too repetitive. As for Dream Radar, while it lured players in with the potential of catching legendary Pokemon, it didn’t have enough content to keep you playing for more than a few hours. That, and the gameplay literally had you zapping clouds and catching Pokemon… by zapping them, too.
Pokemon Channel was a game that let you watch Pokemon TV shows. From identifying Pokemon on Quiz Wobbuffet, to watching the news presented by Psyduck and Meowth, it’s all there. Unfortunately, it’s just not fun, nor interesting for older players. There is a DVD-quality animated feature included, but even that’s not a big enough redeeming factor for Pokemon Channel.
Rumble Blast’s larger battles compared to its WiiWare predecessor made it a slightly more enjoyable experience. Though, it’s not enough to save it from becoming incredibly repetitive, though. As for Shuffle, its match-three to catch Pokemon mechanic was a novel take on the classic mechanic, but its huge wait times when you ran out of lives were far too long to keep you coming back.
Rumble World was another free-to-play title, but one that learned from the mistakes of Shuffle. Its microtransactions are fairer, and there’s more to do here, too. Unfortunately, the overly basic gameplay of the series still remains.
While Explorers of Darkness added nearly nothing new from its predecessors, Gates to Infinity watered the adventure down too much to be enjoyable to older players. Pokemon Rumble meanwhile, suffered from a lack of depth and the same repetition issues of other later games in the series.
While it may come in one point higher than its twin title, Explorers of Darkness, Explorers of Time suffered from the same lack of innovation. They also lacked the challenge older players may be looking for in a dungeon crawler. The one point difference likely comes down to the number of reviews and their respective scores.
Coming in at 62, Blue Rescue Team was a new direction for the series, but one that suffered from outdated graphics, oversimplified gameplay, and one that simply went on for too long. Shuffle Mobile, on the other hand suffers from the same poor free-to-play structure as its 3DS counterpart, tarnishing the match-3 fun to be had.
Gale of Darkness may have been the sequel to the popular RPG, Pokemon Colosseum, but it didn’t feel like it. Poor pacing and a lack of new features means you’d be better off just playing its predecessor.
Coming in a few points above its DS counterpart, Blue Rescue Team, Red Rescue Team on the GBA suffered many of the same gameplay issues. However, due to the system’s limitations, its graphics were less harshly criticized.
Both of the Pokemon Ranger games here suffer from the same issues. They lack an engaging story, their gameplay becomes repetitive far too quickly, and the lack of challenge accentuates the games’ issues further. Pokemon GO, on the other hand, was criticized heavily for the technical issues and “unfinished” feel that plagued its initial launch. Now, however, the mobile experience feels far more polished and has a wealth of new improvements that enhance the Poke-catching fun.
Battle Trozei was another match-3 game, but this time around you were on a mission to Trozei every last Pokemon by lowering a wild Pokemon’s HP. These could fight back, however, making for frantic scrambles as you tried to outdo the ‘mon before it got you. Unfortunately, its Pokemon-themed gameplay wasn’t enough to justify its price tag against other match-3 titles, especially with its lack of online play.
Colosseum was the series’ first RPG outing on a non-GameBoy system. The game brought the series’ adventuring fun to the GameCube with a slight twist, as you took down trainers who caught damaged or injured Pokemon. While it was definitely a step in the right direction, it didn’t quite go far enough in bringing the series’ classic gameplay to home systems.
Pokemon Link’s match-four puzzling action was easy to pick up, but packed a serious challenge in its later levels. Though it may have been lacking in play options, it still stands as one of the Pokemon franchise’s best spin-off titles.
Combining the challenging gameplay of Picross’ nonogram puzzles with the compelling need to catch ’em all synonymous with the Pokemon series, Pokemon Picross is a solid 3DS spin-off. Just be warned, though, that it’ll actually cost you $30 to play the full game once you’ve downloaded it for free.
At a score of 76 we see the first of the mainline Pokemon adventures. Emerald offered a great adventure for those who hadn’t yet played Ruby or Sapphire, but lacked enough notable new features or changes for those who had.
Tournament, on the other hand, delivered an enjoyable Tekken-like fighter, but its lack of challenge in its campaign and similar movesets for its fighters meant there was plenty of room for improvement. Finally, Pokemon Art Academy is a great tool for those wanting to learn how to draw their favorite Pokemon, but its appeal is relatively niche.
A fan favorite spin-off, Snap had players heading out into the wild to try and catch the best possible photos of the cuddly creatures. Its high-score chase gave you ample reason to come back for more, and it was praised for offering a unique experience in the franchise. Unfortunately, most of the game’s Pokemon could be seen quickly, leaving the appeal of snapping the last few to keep you coming back.
Black and White 2 were more than just mid-generation releases, they packed in a ton of new content that made them well-worth picking up, even if you’d played the original Black and White games.
Pokemon Conquest, meanwhile, was praised for taking the series in a new strategic direction. Players would set out to recruit allies to strengthen their growing kingdom, and use the strengths and weaknesses of different types to defeat their enemies in turn-based battles.
While FireRed and LeafGreen were great for revisiting the series’ small beginnings, it was felt that the updates cut some corners and could have been far more extensive.
Match-three puzzle game, Pokemon Puzzle League was praised for its incredibly compelling adaptation of the classic Tetris Attack on the N64. Meanwhile, Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire’s high-score chasing fun was accompanied with great visuals, and challenging objectives, providing hours of pinball fun on the GBA.
Both the original and updated Hoenn adventures come in with a score of 82 (as the original Sapphire doesn’t have a score on Metacritic). The original releases were praised for bringing one of the most detailed and exciting worlds to explore in an RPG to date, alongside a whole host of new and returning Pokemon. Alpha Sapphire then took all of this, and blended it with X and Y’s 3D engine and cinematic visuals to make a truly incredibly handheld adventure.
Omega Ruby’s score was edged up a tiny bit more thanks to a few more reviews, but was still praised for bringing a breath of fresh air to the Hoenn region. Meanwhile, Pokemon Platinum built upon the strong foundations of Diamond and Pearl, adding in new features such as the Distortion World, Battle Frontier, and a virtual Pokemon amusement park.
Beating out their updated version in Platinum, Diamond and Pearl come in with a huge score of 85. They didn’t change the core gameplay mechanics of the series, but players were given a compelling and lengthy adventure with the addition of online trades and battles.
It seems that 87 is the common score for the mainline Pokemon adventures, with HeartGold and SoulSilver, Black and White, X, and Sun and Moon all sharing the Metacritic average. HG and SS returned players to the regions of Johto and Kanto once more, Black and White added a ton of new creatures in the region of Unova, and Sun and Moon’s adventure added in a ton of new features. From Alolan forms of classic Pokemon, altering their forms, a change from Gyms to island challenges, and the removal of HM moves, the titles were the biggest shakeup the series has seen.
Yes, we know Pokemon X was scored 87, but it made more sense to talk about them here. Pokemon X and Y didn’t just add in new Pokemon, mega-evolutions, and a cast of new characters, they brought the series into 3D for the first time, and it’s one heck of an experience. While it was very easy and child-friendly with its lack of a true “rival,” it’s a game that every Pokemon fan has to play.
The Best Pokemon Games, According to Metacritic
Pokemon Dash - 46
My Pokemon Ranch - 47
Pokemon Rumble U - 49
Pokemon Battle Revolution - 53
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky and Dream Radar - 54
As for Dream Radar, while it lured players in with the potential of catching legendary Pokemon, it didn't have enough content to keep you playing for more than a few hours. That, and the gameplay literally had you zapping clouds and catching Pokemon... by zapping them, too.
Pokemon Channel - 55
Pokemon Rumble Blast and Pokemon Shuffle - 56
As for Shuffle, its match-three to catch Pokemon gamplay was a novel take on the classic mechanic, but its huge wait times when you ran out of lives were far too long to keep you coming back.
Pokemon Rumble World - 58
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness, Rumble, and Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity - 59
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time - 60
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Shuffle Mobile - 62
Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness - 64
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team - 67
Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs, and Pokemon GO - 68
Pokemon GO was criticized heavily for the technical issues and an "unfinished" feel that plagued its initial launch. Now, however, the mobile experience feels far more polished and has a wealth of improvements that enhance the Poke-catching fun.
Pokemon Ranger and Super Mystery Dungeon - 69
Super Mystery Dungeon is the highest scoring Mystery Dungeon title, in part thanks to its dark and intriguing story. On top of that, its roster of 720 Pokemon means there's plenty of content to keep players busy for hours on end.
Pokemon Battle Trozei AKA Pokemon Link: Battle - 70
Pokemon Colosseum - 73
Pokemon Trozei! aka Pokemon Link - 74
Pokemon Picross - 75
Pokemon Emerald, Pokken Tournament, and Art Academy - 76
Pokken Tournament delivered an enjoyable Tekken-like Pokemon fighter, but the easy campaign and similar move sets for its fighters meant there was plenty of room for improvement.
Finally, Pokemon Art Academy is a great tool for those wanting to learn how to draw their favorite Pokemon, but its appeal is relatively niche.
Pokemon Snap - 77
Pokemon Stadium 2 and TCG Online - 78
TCG Online, meanwhile, is a great mobile game for those wanting to play the Pokemon card game without the mess. Sadly, a finicky network, frustrating UI, and one-song soundtrack really tarnish the experience.
Pokemon Black 2/ White 2 and Conquest - 80
Pokemon Conquest was praised for taking the series in a new strategic direction. Players would set out to recruit allies to strengthen their growing kingdom and use the strengths and weaknesses of different types to defeat their enemies in turn-based battles.
Pokemon FireRed/ LeafGreen, Puzzle League, and Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire - 81
Match-three puzzle game, Pokemon Puzzle League was praised for its incredibly compelling adaptation of the classic Tetris Attack on the N64. Meanwhile, Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire's high-score chasing fun was accompanied with great visuals and challenging objectives, providing hours of pinball fun on the GBA.
Pokemon Ruby and Alpha Sapphire - 82
Pokemon Platinum and Omega Ruby - 83
Pokemon Platinum built upon the strong foundations of Diamond and Pearl, adding in new features such as the Distortion World, Battle Frontier, and a virtual Pokemon amusement park.