For over 25 years, Pokémon has dominated the Role-Playing Game (RPG) genre. It has become one of the bestselling franchises in the whole world, and with the upcoming release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Pokémon will be entering their ninth generation of mainline games. While some games remain cult classics for years, some games have the fandom quite divided and disappointed. Looking back on the franchise, Alyana Fatima ranks the mainline games from worst to best.
14. X and Y
There was little to no post-game content
Despite fans’ excitement for the first 3DS Pokémon game, it was met with widespread disappointment. Although a lot of new features were introduced such as mega evolution, the Pokémon-amie system, fairy type Pokémon (my favourite) and better character customisation, it had many of flaws. The difficulty of the game was significantly lower, and the map of Kalos was also a linear mess. The new roster of Pokémon was incredibly small and there was little to no post-game content. This was also the first and only game in the series that was never enhanced by a third game, sequel or an expansion pack.
13. Sun and Moon
As you’ll probably be able to tell, the 3DS era wasn’t Pokémon’s best. The seventh-generation game took place in Alola; the beautiful, beachy region inspired by Hawaii with Alolan versions of Pokémon to match. Sun and Moon changed up the traditional gym battle campaign, but this felt a lot slower while also making the game much easier and the story dragged on with too many cut scenes that couldn’t be skipped. The Z moves weren’t exactly a revolutionary addition to the game either.
12. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
Unlike Black 2 and White 2 which were direct sequels to Black and White and were completely new games, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are just ‘enhanced’ versions of Sun and Moon. But in my opinion, they’re almost the exact same game. Although things like the story pacing are improved and they’ve added more of a post-game, these games didn’t really fix Sun and Moon the way for example Platinum fixed Diamond and Pearl or Emerald fixed Ruby and Sapphire.
11. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
The latest games to be released in the mainline series were remakes of the beloved fourth generation games, thus this ranking may come as a surprise to many people but isn’t exactly an unpopular opinion. Unfortunately, these remakes did not hit the spot for a lot of people.
Without the improvements Platinum made to the generation, the remakes are almost useless
They are almost too close to the originals and the graphics divided the fanbase; while some loved the chibi art-style, others wanted something more impressive. This game also did not incorporate any content from Diamond and Pearl’s enhanced and superior version, Pokémon Platinum. Without the improvements Platinum made to the generation, the remakes are almost useless.
10. Red, Blue and Yellow
Going back to where it all began, Red and Blue were the first games and were released on the Game Boy. There are many reasons why it might not hold as well today such as not being in colour, and its infamous glitches and bugs.
I do believe that nostalgia is the main reason for its replayability today
However, this game established the series and has this sweet nostalgic charm to it that still make it playable to this day. The classic Pokémon from these games remain the most iconic ones to date – although I do believe that nostalgia is the main reason for its replayability today. Besides the addition of Pikachu following you around everywhere and adding colour, Pokémon Yellow only makes minor changes.
9. FireRed and LeafGreen
The generation one remakes were the first remakes in the franchise and they were released for the Game Boy Advance. Besides improving the graphics, adding shiny Pokémon and a post-game where you can catch some Pokémon from Gold and Silver, these games are pretty much the exact same as the originals. It isn’t exactly a bad thing though, as it makes them the best way to play through the Kanto region.
8. Sword and Shield
The eighth generation of Pokémon games was a highly anticipated release. These were the first main games on the Nintendo Switch, thus expectations for it were incredibly high, but the graphics were surprisingly disappointing. Like other newer entries, the difficulty was ramped down and it was also the only game to not include every single Pokémon at release.
The map felt very linear
Although the region of Galar is pretty, the map felt very linear. However, I quite enjoyed the addition of the mini open-world wild area – it felt fresh, and I enjoyed going there to train my Pokémon. The expansion packs added the missing Pokémon and improved the post-game a lot.
7. Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald
The third generation games were released for the Game Boy Advance and became the best-selling games on the console. These games introduced a lot of the classic Pokémon mechanics such as double battles and the inclusion of natures and how they predict stats. The Hoenn region has one of the best maps to date with several standout locations. The legendary Pokémon who summoned weather elements into battle were also highly memorable. The enhanced version, Emerald built upon them by adding new story elements, a battle frontier for the post-game and more Pokémon.
6. Gold, Silver and Crystal
These instalments were released for the Game Boy Colour, introducing several new Pokémon and new moves. They added day and night cycles and Pokémon that could only be caught in certain times of the day which I enjoyed. They expanded the experience of the first games and delivered exceptionally well.
Unfortunately, they are dated due to their poor graphics
The post-game is also incredible as you can travel to Kanto and battle the gym leaders there, making the game campaign massive. Unfortunately, they are dated due to their poor graphics. Crystal added the ability to play as a girl and more things to do.
5. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
The generation three remakes didn’t just remake the original two games but also incorporated elements from the enhanced release. The added feature of flying around Hoenn is a magical addition. All in all they are faithful remakes to the original and the best way to play through the Hoenn region.
4. Black and White
Unova (based on New York City) is a breath of fresh air
One of the most ambitious entries in the series, Black and White were released on the Nintendo DS. Unova (based on New York City) is a breath of fresh air after four regions based on Japan. Although the map is linear, there is much to explore on the routes. The addition of triple battles and seasonal Pokémon was also interesting. Although it includes the largest roster of Pokémon, only newer ones could be played with. There is a higher emphasis on story telling which is actually done well, with an interesting story and a fully-fledged out post-game.
3. Black 2 and White 2
These aren’t enhanced versions of the originals but are instead direct sequels to the first games. The story and characters are new and new locations are added as well. It takes everything that made the first game great and makes it even better without rendering the originals useless.
2. Diamond, Pearl and Platinum
These fourth generation games were also released for the Nintendo DS. Widely considered some of the best in the series, they weren’t without their flaws. Diamond and Pearl’s pacing was a bit slow and there was a low frame rate.
Everyone is still scarred from that Cynthia battle
However, Platinum came and fixed every issue with the originals while adding on some amazing new features as well. The story progression was improved, and the gyms were redesigned and the challenge in the game was perfect (everyone is still scarred from that Cynthia battle).
1. HeartGold and SoulSilver
I think this is the most common opinion. The second-generation remakes stand out and remain on top of almost everyone’s list. They added dark and steel types, weather effects and weekend events. These are remakes done right, capturing the nostalgia of the original games while adding on to them, making these the best way to play through Johto.
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