Credit: Nintendo

Catch 'em all

5 best Pokemon games you can’t afford to miss

Nintendo’s Pokemon is the third-highest-selling video game franchise of all time. But what are the best games in the series?

We’re now approaching the 9th generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

Here’s our top 5 list of the best pokemon games from the first 8 generations.

1. Blue, Red, and Yellow

What better way to start our list of the best Pokemon games than with where it all started? Released between 1996 and 1998, these games are a nostalgia hit for the most avid Pokemon fans.

Allowing you to explore the Kanto region for the very first time, these games introduced the world to the first 151 pokemon. We met Pikachu, Professor Oak, and many more.

Choosing from Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle to embark on your adventure, the protagonist must explore the different towns within the city and challenge their gym leaders.

When all 8 gym badges have been obtained, you can then challenge the Elite Four and the Champion to become the greatest Pokemon trainer in the region. Yellow is slightly different, as it gives the player a Pikachu to start with, as it’s loosely based upon the anime series.

It’s simple, but it’s beautiful. Pokemon is at its most pure, here, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This list of the best Pokemon games simply wouldn’t be legitimate if it wasn’t included.


2. Heart Gold and Soul Silver

Heart Gold and Soul Silver are DS remakes of the second generation of Pokemon games, Gold and Silver. Both the original and the remake could be on this list of the best pokemon games, but we thought we’d just pick one.

This time around, the player would explore the Johto region, with three new starter pokemon to choose from: Totodile, Cyndaquil, and Chikorita. Totodile and Cyndiquil are by far the easier options to pick. Chikorita is there for the players who want a bit of a challenge. 

What makes Heart Gold and Soul Silver so good is that they allow the player to have a Pokemon follow them while they walk. This was doable in the original versions of the game too but had not been a feature since.

Heart Gold and Soul Silver are also the only Pokemon games where players get to explore a whole other region in its endgame.

After defeating the Elite Four and becoming the Champion, players are allowed to explore the original Kanto region. There they can battle the gym leaders from Gen 1, albeit with far tougher Pokemon than they had before.


3. Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby

The second remake to feature on our list of the best Pokemon games; Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby were remakes of the Gameboy Advance classics, Sapphire and Ruby. These remakes were made for the 3DS. 

The third generation of Pokemon offered players arguably the three greatest starter pokemon: Mudkip, Torchic, and Treecko.

The third evolutions of all three are fan favorites. Mudkip’s final evolution, Swampert, is one of the most overpowered Pokemon of all time due to its Water/Ground type combo.

Not only does the game have great starter Pokemon, but it also has great legendary Pokemon. Kyogre and Groudon are two of the best legendary Pokemon of any game, both stand as formidable opponents worthy of your Master Ball.

The originals were the first Pokemon game to allow you to use the Hidden Move Dive, which quite literally added a new level of depth to Pokemon games. The remakes make the list due to their endgame content, which allowed you to capture the legendary DNA Pokemon Deoxys.


4. Diamond and Pearl

Unlike the previous two entries on our list of best Pokemon games, it’s the originals that make the list, not their remakes. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were good, but they weren’t true remakes. Their chibi-style aesthetic was also viewed as a mistake.

Diamond and Pearl are remembered fondly by almost every Pokemon fan, so much so that fans were calling for them to be remade for years. The three starters, Piplup, Chimchar, and Turtwig are all well received, and their third evolutions even more so.

Diamond and Pearl were the first generation of Pokemon games to be released on DS, and utilized the touch screen through the use of the Poketch. The Poketch was effectively a smartwatch and had a number of apps that would monitor your pokemon or alert you to hidden items.

Pokemon Contests were also built upon during Diamond and Pearl. Contests now contained three stages, instead of the one they had on Gameboy Advance games.

There was the visual stage, where players would use the stylus to give Pokemon accessories. The final stage was the dance stage, this time the stylus would be used to make their Pokemon dance in rhythm with the music.


5. Sword and Shield

The first generation of Pokemon games to be released on the Switch, Sword and Shield might be a controversial inclusion in our list of the best Pokemon games.

Sword and Shield’s starter Pokemon are viewed as one of the worst starter trios in Pokemon history. This is due to all of their final evolutions having only one move type.

We’re here, however, to say that Rillaboom, Grookey’s final evolution, is probably one of the coolest Pokemon ever. His Gigantamax form is a drum kit, that’s too good.

Sword and Shield perfectly utilize the advancements of the Switch. Their graphics are superb, and the cutscenes and the size of the cities add incredible scale to the game. The map design also feels fun and different from any other game in the franchise.

The Wild Area was also a great addition to the game, giving players a vast area to explore and be able to train their Pokemon to become more powerful than ever before.

The amount of older generation Pokemon to feature in this area was also great. Sword and Shield’s DLC is also incredibly expansive, which alone earns them their spot on this list of best Pokemon games. 


Honorable Mention: Emerald and Platinum

Both of these games are similar to Pokemon Yellow, in that they are ‘enhanced’ versions of the games in their generation. Pokemon Emerald was released with generation two, while Platinum came with gen four.

In both games, gyms were adapted and the levels inside them were made more fun.

Both games also added a new legendary Pokemon, their box mascots. Emerald had Rayquaza, while Platinum had Giratina.


Sam McKenzie covers a variety of competitive first-person shooters, with an emphasis on Valorant and Counter-Strike esports. He also has a passion for football in both the real and virtual worlds, and contributes his expertise in FIFA esports.