Pokemon, undoubtedly, is one of the greatest video game series that has transcended the test of time over the past couple of decades. With its enduring popularity and countless successful releases, Pokemon continues to hold a special place in the hearts of gamers worldwide. This iconic franchise has not only dominated the gaming industry but has also made a significant impact beyond, expanding into other forms of media and leaving an indelible mark. With a plethora of games under its belt, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin for newcomers. Fear not, as we have meticulously ranked the absolute best Pokemon games of all time, ensuring that you embark on an unforgettable journey into the captivating world of Pokemon.
Best Pokemon Games
Please note, since there is such an abundance of games released in North America, we have excluded original versions of those titles that got remade.
35. Magikarp Jump (2017) – iOS & Android
Poor lowly Magikarp. It can’t even get any higher than 35 on this list no matter how high it can jump. Still, it’s quite an achievement for one of the most pathetic Pokemon to have their own game and then to be on this list.
The mobile game essentially just focuses on raising new Magikarp and “battling” against other trainers by seeing which fish can jump higher. It’s a very basic mobile game, but it’s well-made and a funny way to feature an otherwise pretty weak Pokemon.
Related: Best Legendary Pokemon of All Time on Gamepur
34. Picross (2015) – 3DS
For Sudoku lovers, there are these kinds of puzzles. A timeless classic with a Pokemon twist that is perfect for gamers on the go. Unfortunately not much else is included in this title, so it’s hard to pin this any higher. But, as a puzzle game, it is solid.
33. Hey You, Pikachu! (2000) – N64
There’s just something about yelling at Pikachu that made young Pokemon fans cheer with glee. The game is very simple, utilizing the Voice Recognition Unit (the only game in North America to use it). You simply spoke to Pikachu and got him to do things, or assisted him with challenges.
The story is simple, you meet a wild Pikachu and convince him to be your friend. As you went through the days you grew closer only to have it come to a head when you finally reached day 365, then things took a turn for the sad.
One funny little Easter egg in the game is that if you said “PlayStation” to Pikachu, he would become angry. Cute Nintendo, very cute.
32. Trozei! (2006) – DS
Yet another Pokemon puzzle game was released in the form of Trozei! It’s a mix of Yoshi’s Cookie, Dr. Mario, and Tetris that has you moving different Pokemon heads to match three before they fill the screen too much and you get a game over.
31. Masters EX (2019) – iOS & Android
Masters EX is one of those Pokemon games that pops up every once in a while and you’re like oh yeah, that game has a funny name. Besides the unfortunate name, Masters EX is a solid mobile game. It features teams of three all battling simultaneously with attacks that have cooldowns. The gameplay is solid, however, the gacha mechanics can make the game a bit difficult for people who aren’t looking to whale their way to victory.
Still, the game is designed in a manner that allows good players to progress through battles without putting much or even any money into the game.
30. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness (2005) – GameCube
Gale of Darkness is a sequel to Colosseum, and while it expands the roster, it doesn’t do much else differently. Because of that, it wasn’t received well. Where Colosseum was brand new and innovative, Gale of Darkness just copy-pasted, utilizing the same location, and even recycling a lot of the graphics. The story had lost its oomph by now, and fans wanted something more akin to the handheld games.
It’s cool to ‘snag’ Shadow Pokemon in the first entry, but after that little experiment, anything other than catching them outright lost its touch.
29. Mystery Dungeon Series (2006-2020) – DS, 3DS, & Switch
Mystery Dungeon games are a series that places players into randomly generated dungeons where they must battle enemies and can build teams as well as collect items. They are rogue-like by nature where your failure results in you losing everything and having to restart.
Playing as a Pokemon is fun, but after a while, the repetitive nature of dungeon crawling can weigh down the experience. Add to that the relatively small roster of the games, and overly simplistic stories and dialogues, and you have an experience that pales in comparison to the core series.
The most recent iteration, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX (Switch, 2020) seems like a step in the right direction by remaking the original game. But still, it misses the mark on what makes Pokemon such a great property in the first place, and that’s why it falls so far to the bottom of the list.
28. Colosseum (2004) – GameCube
Pokemon Colosseum was the first RPG in the series to appear on a home console. It doesn’t feature the same freedom to go anywhere and catch everything that its mainline counterparts do, but it is a taste of that. Tasked with ‘snagging’ and purifying dark Pokemon, players are led on an adventure through a brand-new region (Orre) as they try to save all of the Pokemon in the world. Decent visuals for the time and an interesting story were a glimpse of what was coming in the future.
27. Pokken Tournament (2015) – Wii U & Switch
Some of you may remember the first time this game was leaked with an image of a highly-detailed Lucario staring down an equally good-looking Blaziken. For a Wii U game, Pokken Tournament looks great and even better yet, it had incredible fighting gameplay.
Of course, the skilled creators at Bandai Namco made a fantastic fighting game with absolutely stunning attack and super animations. The only problem is that nobody played it because it was on the Wii U. Fortunately, Pokken Tournament DX launched on the Switch two years later to introduce this game to a wider audience on the Switch as a sort of revival.
26. Unite (2021) – iOS, Android, & Switch
Pokemon Unite doesn’t have the best graphics or the most original gameplay of any title around. Yet, it’s one of the best Pokemon games ever made. Sure, it’s just a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) like League of Legends (LoL), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good one.
At the launch of the game, some people decided to throw in hundreds of dollars in order to get an early jump on everyone else. However, the game’s progression allows players to simply play matches and within a month or less have enough resources to adequately upgrade every item that’s worth using.
Like similar games in the MOBA genre, it suffers a bit with new characters being overpowered at launch, but otherwise, it’s a solid title that fills a niche the Pokemon franchise had not yet ventured into.
25. Pokemon Pinball (1999) – Game Boy Color
There’s just something about pinball that’s hard to resist. The games are addictive with the simple act of keeping a ball in play as you whacked it across the board. Things get interesting when combined with the world of Pokemon.
Like other games within the franchise, players are able to catch critters, only they must do so in a pinball game by triggering events and hitting certain bumpers. You can fill your Pokedex by playing one of the two tables (Red and Blue based on the first-generation games).
It is fun, and very engaging, even if it isn’t the usual RPG fare. While many spin-offs managed to miss their mark, you can’t go wrong with some pinball action.
24. Conquest (2012) – DS
Pokemon Conquest was the oddest announcement ever. It mixes Koei properties with Pokemon. No, not in some Dynasty Warriors-esque way. Rather, a mix of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Pokemon. You have characters from Dynasty Warriors and the like mixed with training Pokemon.
The mechanics are basically like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics where a sound strategy prevails on the battlefield.
23. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (2021) – Switch
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the remakes of the original DS games which revolutionized the Pokemon franchise in multiple ways like the return of the day/night cycle, online play, and more. Unfortunately, these remakes didn’t end up having the same impact. Still, it is a solid Pokemon game that acted as a stop-gap on the way to Legends Arceus.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl feature the return of the Poketch, which is pretty much a smartwatch that allows players to better organize their adventure as well as provides useful tools such as a calculator.
The Sinnoh underground area is great as well. You can customize a base, play minigames, play with others, and find otherwise unobtainable Pokemon for your collection.
22. Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition (1999) – Game Boy
Yellow was the game everyone that had watched the animated series wanted. Red and Blue allow us all to be trainers, but Yellow lets everyone be just like Ash and have a Pokemon that is truly their friend. The little Pikachu walks right behind you throughout your adventure to be the greatest trainer in the world.
It is also the first game in the series to feature full color even though it isn’t a Game Boy Color title. It also upgrades all of the things you could do in the original games. You could think of it as a sort of director’s cut that takes the first adventure and makes it even better.
21. Black and White (2011) – DS
Black and White are the first games in the series since Gold and Silver to transform how the game is played on a large scale. Since players enter a new region (Unova) that is very far from the previous ones (Johto, Kanto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh), older Pokemon are rare. But, thanks to something called the Dream World (shut down in 2014), players were able to encounter beasts from just about anywhere, allowing trainers to capture them in Unova.
New battle types, such as Triple and Rotation battles mix things up quite a bit. The Battle Subway (think Battle Towers) allows those looking for challenges to find some. Everything is animated and many more 3D elements are present for a much more modern look to the game.
The biggest addition in Black and White is definitely the season cycle. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter make for unique experiences since they rotate each month, keeping players occupied as new opportunities arise with the changes in the weather.
20. Pokemon GO (2016) – iOS & Android
Pokemon GO is the most unique game on this list, mostly due to the fact that instead of your typical game it’s a mobile app. The fact that it’s an app shouldn’t deter you though, this is a solid experience that brings the dreams of a lot of players to life. Instead of controlling some trainer on an adventure on your handheld, you actually are that trainer. The game uses your GPS to track your location and your character moves around as you walk in real life.
The game also features augmented reality (AR) which lets you catch or take pictures of Pokemon as if they’re actually in the world around you.
It comes as no surprise that the game has blown up, reigniting the passion to be the very best in old fans and creating new ones in its wake. The game has also been bringing millions of people together as they encounter one another out in the wild.
Friendships are forged, Pokemon are caught, and nothing could be better. Even better, the game is still growing, with more looking to be added all the time, and features to help bring the experience closer to the classics.
19. Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire (2003) – Game Boy Advance
Do you know what’s better than pinball? More pinball. And that’s something that the developers figured out after the first Pokemon Pinball. The gameplay is basically the same as the last iteration, only this time much more expansive. You still have only two tables (this time based on Ruby and Sapphire), but the new Travel Mode allows you to switch regions within the table.
There is also the new Egg Mode that allows you to hatch and potentially catch a Pokemon.
It’s a slightly upgraded version of the last pinball game, but it makes all the difference and is still tons of fun.
18. Black 2 and White 2 (2012) – DS
Black 2 and White 2 are interesting for several reasons, but the main one is the fact that these are the first direct sequels in the Pokemon franchise. The games take place in the Unova region from the previous versions two years later. Locations that were under construction are now complete and different. Characters you dealt with previously are now doing different things with their lives, and even the enemies, Team Plasma, have undergone a shift.
Graphically and gameplay-wise, Black 2 and White 2 are very alike their predecessors. New features such as the Pokemon World Tournament and Pokestar Studios are thrown in for some extra side activities. While it may not have an abundance of new features, it’s cool to see some solid continuity within the games and to be able to witness the effects you’ve had on the region.
17. Pokemon Trading Card Game (2000) – Game Boy Color
No, you’re not reading that wrong, there is an actual Pokemon video game that is based on the trading card game. In it, you play as a young boy who travels the world challenging NPCs in the tabletop game. It is a wonderful alternative to the cards if you are trying to save some money (those cards can be very expensive), but outside of that if you can get a core Pokemon game, there was no real reason to get this one.
It’s cool that they went the digital route with the highly popular game, but choosing between actually collecting monsters and playing with virtual paper? Yeah, no contest. There’s also a sequel, but it never left the shores of Japan, not officially at least.
16. Sun and Moon (2016) – 3DS
Pokemon Sun and Moon is incredibly innovative, that’s for sure. It’s the first game to do away with the gym system and replaced it with something called Island Challenges, a new feature that embraces the game’s Hawaiian theme. It also introduces Alolan forms, a really neat idea on paper that saw some classic Gen 1 Pokemon change types to adapt to their surroundings in Alola. For example, the traditionally Fire-type Vulpix lives in the snowier areas of Alola and becomes an Ice-type Pokemon instead. Also, the storyline is one of the darkest and most coherent in the series to date.
What holds it back a tad is that the innovations, don’t really have the same impact as some of the other, higher-rated mainline games. The Island Challenges are definitely different and a brave move, but they aren’t necessarily better or more enjoyable. Most of them consist of a small puzzle to solve, and then a fight against a Totem (super-charged) version of a Pokemon. Alolan forms are a great idea, but underutilized compared to Mega Evolutions.
Finally, there are way too many legendary Pokemon, to the point of excess thanks to the additions of the Ultra Beasts.
15. Stadium (2000) – N64
Pokemon Stadium is an odd but highly enjoyable game that is actually the first console entry for the franchise. Instead of a full-on RPG, the game focuses on four tournaments where you can battle it out for supremacy and a few mini-games.
The biggest draws are being able to transfer any of your Pokemon (Red, Blue, and Yellow) into the game and see them beautifully rendered on the big screen.
You are also able to play those Gen I games on your big screen through the N64 by using the Transfer Pak that came with new copies of Pokemon Stadium. Despite the game’s simplicity, it was very well received. We couldn’t keep going without giving this one a mention in our list of the best Pokemon games.
14. Pokemon Snap (1999) – N64
What is there to say about Pokemon Snap that hasn’t already been said a million times before? Did you walk around on an intense adventure? No. Did you spend your time capturing these powerful creatures for your own use? Not in the way you’d probably expect. Were all the different pocket monsters from Gen 1 in the game? Nope. Yet the game still manages to be absolutely amazing.
You play as Todd Snap, Pokemon photographer extraordinaire, and all you do is sit inside the Zero-One (the automated vehicle you sit in throughout the game) and take pictures of the creatures in their natural habitats. There are easter eggs, fun secrets you can unlock by messing with the critters, and the ability to save your masterfully snapped photos (which you could then print out as stickers at select retailers).
It was a surprisingly zen experience that requires very little of the player.
13. Emerald (2005) – Game Boy Advance
Emerald is a lot like Yellow and Crystal in that it provides a fully-encompassing version of the two games preceding it (Ruby and Sapphire). The major difference is that this iteration has much more drastic changes than either of the two ‘third versions’ did before it. Revamped battles add more two-on-two matches, as well as two trainers vs. one opportunities. The shifted and added locations make it possible to catch almost all of the third Gen Pokemon, and some of the creatures from Gen II are thrown in as well.
The biggest addition is most definitely the Battle Frontier, though. After becoming the champion you can head to one of the seven different challenge areas. You can earn rewards and even Frontier Symbols (which are basically a whole new set of badges).
12. FireRed and LeafGreen (2004) – Game Boy Advance
Red and Blue are the games that got it all started here in North America, but the original releases in Japan were Red and Green. For the remake of the classic, the developers decided to go back to the original color combination and gave us FireRed and LeafGreen. These re-iterations contain all the classic elements players know and love but also add in all of the advances made in the franchise up to that point.
That means Pokemon have genders, can carry items, and are able to breed. Pokemon from Gen II and III can be found as well, and you can even venture out of the Kanto region and into an entirely new area, the Sevi Islands. Red is no longer the sole protagonist to choose from either. You can play as Leaf, a female trainer, as well.
FireRed and LeafGreen are perfect examples of how to build on a classic without having it lose its identity.
11. Puzzle League (2000) and Puzzle Challenge (2000)
The Pokemon Puzzle games brought that Candy Crush addiction before gaming on mobile phones was popular. In these match three puzzle games, you have to act fast as you go head-to-head with your opponents.
The gameplay is essentially like Tetris Attack (Panel de Pon in Japan) and features popular characters from the anime series. Simply put, it’s the best Pokemon game in the puzzle genre.
10. Sword & Shield (2019) – Switch
There’s no way that you can over-exaggerate how important Sword and Shield has been to the Switch. Sure, it was already selling well with games like Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. However, Pokemon has always been the system seller for handheld systems.
On top of that, it is the first mainline title to be launched on a home console. While the graphics, framerate, and lack of a full national PokeDex sour the experience for some, there’s no doubt that Sword and Shield is a spectacular achievement.
Game Freak’s first jump into a more open world is an absolute success. New features like max raids and the Pokemon League tournament instead of an elite four make Sword and Shield one of the best Pokemon games.
9. Stadium 2 (2001) N64
Pokemon Stadium 2 is similar to the original, only this time the developer (HAL Laboratory) decided to throw in some much-needed variety. You can still transfer all of your pocket monsters into the game, and there are still tournaments to get into. But outside of that functionality, the mini-games are featured more highly this time around.
The second entry in this series feels more like a party game with the mini-games sometimes centering around specific beasts and using all of the gimmicks from other similar N64 titles. It is fun, much more enjoyable with multiple players, and has a much larger roster to play with and unlock in your Pokedex. While it’s a sequel, it’s definitely one of the best Pokemon games.
8. New Pokemon Snap (2021) – Switch
After what seemed like an eternity, the long-hoped-for sequel to Pokemon Snap was released in 2021. If you’ve played the first game, then there’s not much to say except that it’s better in just about every way.
The biggest difference is in the quality of life changes. The UI makes it so much easier to figure out which snapshots are going to be the best to submit to Professor Mirror. This change alone makes progress easier since you know that you’re sending in the best shots possible every time.
On top of that, the most important things in a game where you’re taking pictures, the graphics, are obviously drastically better than the original. New Pokemon Snap is one of the best-looking Pokemon games ever made and absolutely deserves all the praise it receives.
7. Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu (2018) – Switch
The most recent remake of the original Pokemon games, Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu combines elements of both the traditional mainline games and the popular mobile spinoff, Pokemon GO. It’s a beautiful romp through the original Kanto region inspired by Pokemon Yellow.
The only drawback is that it’s even more simplified than recent games and may prove to be too easy for hardcore fans. Still, the additions made like turning legendary encounters into boss battles and being able to ride or fly on top of Pokemon absolutely changed the game for the better.
6. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (2014) – 3DS
Being remakes that launched during the latest generation of handhelds sure gave Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire a leg up. At their cores, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the same games that older fans would remember from 2003. All of the story and locations are still present in some form, with an abundance of new pocket monsters roaming the lands waiting for you to catch them. But, it’s the additions on top of the already impressive games that make these two such standouts.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire allow the player to move in full 3D in many locations (although there are still a few 2D areas). It also brings another element from X and Y: Mega Evolutions. Not only do you get to see Mega Evolutions for the ‘mons introduced in the previous games, but more than 20 new ones are thrown in as well.
The story has also been expanded, along with some brand-new characters and story beats. Older characters now have revamped appearances to fit the modern generation, and this results in a fresh-looking game. Even Secret Bases have been overhauled, allowing for more customization and new interactions with other players.
During a time when ‘remasters’ and ‘remakes’ had been running rampant, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire felt like brand new games, and that helps to make these some of the best Pokemon games out there.
5. Crystal (2001) – Game Boy Color
Crystal took the base of Gold and Silver and expanded on it. Suicune, one of the three Legendary Beasts, had a new story revolving around it, and Pokemon that you could only catch in specific iterations of the game were now available. New changes to the gameplay were made such as new trainer battle invites with the player through the PokeGear phone (so you could hear all about Joey’s top percentage Rattata), and the ability to use the Pokemon Pikachu pedometer to earn items.
Crystal is also noteworthy for including features that are now mainstays in the Pokemon franchise. The Battle Tower offers a more difficult post-game challenge for the most dedicated trainers and the animated sprites look incredible considering the limitations of the Game Boy Color.
The biggest addition introduced by Crystal, though, was the ability to choose a female protagonist. Up until this game (the 6th in the series) you could only play as a boy. Having the option made the experience a lot more inclusive and became a mainstay in the core series of games.
4. Platinum (2009) – DS
This third version compiles all of the new features and beasts of Diamond and Pearl into one game. The Wi-Fi area supports up to 20 players but focuses mainly on minigames. You can also record certain battles and share them, as well as take screenshots. And there are a few new characters thrown into the mix.
There are graphical updates added as well, such as animated trainers, and lights on some buildings. However, the biggest upgrades are in the post-game section. The game features tons of Legendary Pokemon like the new form of Giratina and the Kanto birds roaming the map of Sinnoh.
On top of that, there’s a large area of the map unlocked following the end of the main game known as the Battle Frontier. Like past post-game content, it features multiple challenging battles, but it also has plenty of areas where you can find ridiculously high-level Pokemon like Magikarp (and other ‘mons) all way up to level 100.
3. X & Y (2013) – 3DS
X and Y are the first games to feature fully 3D visuals. Characters, Pokemon, locations, battles, everything is 3D and fully modeled instead of sprites. Also new to the games are Mega Evolutions which allow certain pocket monsters to evolve even further for the duration of a battle. Giving players much more control of their experience, X and Y allow trainers to customize their appearance.
Additionally, this game finally decided to check the unmatched power of the Dragon-type ‘mons that had reigned as some of the most powerful Pokemon since the first generation. The addition of the Fairy-type cannot be understated. Plus Sylveon is just so adorable that it makes it hilarious that it can tear through a team of intimidating Dragons.
X and Y are definitely two of the best-looking 3DS games and they show that the franchise belongs in 3D. No doubt at all that it’s one of the best Pokemon games.
2. HeartGold and SoulSilver (2010) – DS
Arguably the best handheld games in the Pokemon series, Gold and Silver received proper upgrades on the Nintendo DS 10 years after their initial release. All of the great new additions to the series such as the Vs. Recorder, female protagonists, animated sprites, new quests from games like Crystal, revamped time system, and amazing visuals are thrown in.
All of the upgrades make HeartGold and SoulSilver feel brand new to those who fell in love with the originals and created something up to snuff for newcomers familiar with games such as Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. All Gen II ‘mons are in the game, with exclusivity based on the version you have, but you can now also obtain Gen III and IV creatures through trading or obtaining them in the game (applies only to those from the Hoenn region).
The games that helped to shape the future of the series into something much more are made even better in HeartGold and SoulSilver.
1. Legends Arceus (2022) – Switch
For the sake of trying to seem somewhat objective, we can pretend that Legends Arceus is quite possibly one of the best Pokemon games ever made instead of being the surefire number one. But let’s be real, it’s definitely the best game in this long and storied franchise.
After decades of essentially the same formula, Legends Arceus completely takes every concept that makes Pokemon what it is and absolutely turns it on its head. Damaging Pokemon to catch them turns into a more GO-inspired game of using berries and other foods to lull the creatures into a state where they’re easier to catch.
Even games that added wild Pokemon to the overworld didn’t go as far as Legends Arceus. In titles like Let’s GO or Sword and Shield, running into these ‘mons would trigger a battle sequence after a splash screen whereas this game lets players seamlessly go in and out of battles against overworld creatures.
Legends Arceus is also the first game to go all out with the open-world concept that was first seen in the Wild Area of Sword and Shield. Along with this comes quests that have interesting stories and task the player with challenges that help them progress through the story.
The biggest factor in making Legends Arceus the best Pokemon game of all time is the fact that all of these drastic changes to the franchise’s bread and butter is that they were done exceptionally well. This game reminded the world how Game Freak made Pokemon one of the best-selling game franchises of all time.
That does it for our list of the best Pokemon Games of all time! Let us know down below which ones are your favorites!