What are the best Pokémon games of all time? 

Picking out the best Pokémon games of all time is a pie in the sky, especially because our favorite Pokémon journeys have always been the ones that were the most personally important to us. Pokémon as a game series has evolved over time, with mainline games improving or just changing drastically and countless spinoff titles sporting the Pokémon name.

When it comes to Pokémon games that are currently in production, Pokémon Sword and Shield stands out as the best mainline Pokémon game available on Nintendo’s primary console: the Switch. Players explore a new region, collecting Pokémon and battling with friends and foes, as usual.

What to know before you buy a Pokémon game

Do you want a main title or spinoff adventure?

Main Pokémon titles let you become a trainer and collect Pokémon for battling. However, not all Pokémon games are part of the main series of games. Instead, there are a number of successful and fun spinoff series for avid Pokémon fans.

New Pokémon Snap

Pokémon Go, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and New Pokémon Snap are a few spinoff titles currently available, and some fans are currently debating whether 2022’s upcoming Pokémon Legends: Arceus will technically fall into the main series of games. Either way, the Pokémon series has and will continue to have a lot to offer beyond the usual formula.

Do you care more about single-player or multi-player Pokemon games?

Some of the best single-player Pokémon experiences of all time were from the DS era in Pokémon Platinum, Pokémon Black and White, and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 versions, which all received high praise upon release. However, old Pokémon titles available on Gameboy still trigger nostalgic feelings with hardcore Pokemon players. Aside from the very first generation of games, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, and Emerald probably provide the best nostalgia trips combined with relatively modern gameplay quality of life features. 

Pokémon Ultra Sun

If you care about experiencing Pokémon multiplayer and battling other trainers, you will need a newer title. Whether you opt for joining the 3DS competitive scene in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon or jump right into the latest main series titles on the Nintendo Switch, it will be important to consider additional costs. To use online services on the Switch, for example, you need to subscribe to Nintendo’s online service. Suppose you want to transfer Pokémon from previous generations of games to join you in battle in the most recent titles. In that case, you will need a variety of consoles and software to deliver an old Pokémon friend to a new game safely. 

What console do you have?

For many years now, there have been Pokémon games of some kind available on each of Nintendo’s consoles. Before choosing a title, be sure that you know which titles are available on the Nintendo console you own. 

How much you can expect to spend on a Pokémon game

New Pokémon titles on the Switch are going to cost around $60. The most recent Pokémon titles on the 3DS cost about $40-$50. Older Pokémon games no longer in production can be purchased used for a wide range of prices or, in some cases, emulated on a modern console for about $10.

Pokémon games FAQ

Do I need the latest Pokémon game to play?

A. No, you do not need to buy the latest Pokémon title unless you want access to specific multiplayer functions. There are older Pokémon games that are masterpieces of gaming and worth a playthrough even though they are not among the latest releases. Still, if you like a challenge, perhaps a Nuzlocke playthrough of an old Pokémon game would be fun. 

Should I wait for the next generation of Pokémon games to come out?

A. That depends on why you are looking for a Pokémon game. If you are a fan of the Sinnoh region in general or the old Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum games, you could check out the upcoming Pokémon titles and consider a pre-order if that is right for you. The core series games Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, which are remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, are coming out later in 2021, while Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set to debut in 2022. 

What’s the best Pokémon game to buy?

Top Pokémon Game

Pokémon Sword (or Shield) for the Nintendo Switch

Pokémon Sword (or Shield) for the Nintendo Switch

What you need to know: The newest addition to the mainline Pokémon series is the best Pokémon game currently available on the Nintendo Switch.

What you’ll love: The main story takes about 26 hours total to play through one time, while completing everything that Sword and Shield have to offer would take over 100 hours of gameplay. The Galar region introduced 81 brand new species of Pokémon and 13 new Galarian forms of old Pokémon. There are a multitude of things for trainers to do beyond the main story of the game, some of the highlights being battling with Dynamaxed Pokémon and battling other players online.

What you should consider: For long-time Pokémon fans, the omission of the national Pokédex from Sword and Shield was a huge disappointment. Even after two DLC expansions to this title, the Galar region is still missing 232 beloved Pokémon from the total 893.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Pokémon Game for the money

Pokémon Yellow Version for the Nintendo 3DS (Digital Code)

Pokémon Yellow Version for the Nintendo 3DS (Digital Code)

What you need to know: If you have never played the original Pokémon Red or Pokémon Blue, this is a very affordable must-have game. 

What you’ll love: Unlike Pokémon Red and Blue, Pokémon Yellow allows players to have Pikachu as their starting Pokémon and obtain the three other Kanto region starter Pokémon without multiple playthroughs of the game. The game is a solid emulation on Nintendo hardware of a classic Pokémon game. Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow are all pieces of gaming history, but the Yellow version is unique since it is a bit more inspired by the original Pokémon anime than Pokémon Red and Blue.

What you should consider: To get the Pokémon you catch in this game to other 3DS titles or to your Pokémon Bank, you will need to get a copy of Pokémon Sun or Pokémon Moon first to transfer the Pokémon into the 3D generation of games. From there, you can add them to the Pokémon Bank and use them across other 3DS titles or transfer them to Pokémon HOME. Note that once a Pokémon is transferred to the HOME application, it cannot go back.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX for the Nintendo Switch

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX for the Nintendo Switch

What you need to know: For fans of the original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon from the mid-2000s or total newcomers to the Mystery Dungeon spinoff series of Pokémon games, this is an excellent alternative to main series Pokémon titles.

What you’ll love: The story of the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team titles is presented with a vastly improved and charming art style. If you ever wanted to play a Pokémon game where you can actually become a Pokémon instead of just collecting them, this is definitely the game for you. There is a demo of the game available for download, so before you buy, just go try it out and let the game speak for itself.

What you should consider: Some players find that the new camp system is a bit of a grind, so old fans of the mystery dungeon games should do some research about the minor gameplay changes before picking a copy up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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