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10 Best Pokémon Games, Ranked

Pokémon has cemented itself as one of the biggest media franchises of all time with some of the most iconic movies, anime series episodes, trading and playing cards, and of course, video games.

You can’t call Pokémon a total package if it weren’t for its video games that continue to grow in terms of popularity, number, and quality through the years. The first set of Pokémon games was released by Game Freak in 1996. These were Pokémon Red and Blue, which became available for the Game Boy console.

Since then, more than 30 different video games (both from the mainline and spinoff titles) have built the whole Pokémon series, with the most recent reveals being Pokémon Scarlet and Violet – the first two games of the Ninth Generation, which are set for release Nov. 18.

One of the most interesting things highlighted in every game, especially in the mainline series of titles, is the Pokemon that serves as the cover art for them. Most video games’ names are themed based on their cover Pokemon, with examples such as Pokémon Ruby making the Ground-type but red-colored Groudon, and Pokémon Sapphire centering around the Water-type and blue-colored Kyogre.

Some fans have their favorite games due to that particular edition being their first or possibly because they became attached to them for whatever reason. As expected, some were also received well by critics, even if the commercial side wasn’t as successful. Other games have introduced more advanced integrations throughout the years.

With that being said, here’s our take on the top 10 best Pokémon games of all time, ranked according to their quality, fan reception, and overall impact on the series and the community.

Ranked list of the best Pokémon games

10) Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen

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Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen are the remakes of the original games from the franchise, Red and Blue, although they carried over all Pokémon from Generation I up to Generation III, making a total of more than 350 Pokémon available to be interacted with and caught by players in the wild.

Of course, being remake versions mean that both of the games introduced upgraded graphics from the originals, as well as an updated interface where Game Freak implemented a 32-bit improvement. They also brought nostalgia from the Kanto region, especially with the first 151 Pokémon in the Pokédex.

There are also new elements included in the games, such as Sevii islands, that can provide the option for players to trade Pokémon with players of Ruby and Sapphire once you complete the mission on the islands.

9) Pokémon Sword and Shield

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Set in the region of Galar, Pokémon Sword and Shield are the first pair of games in the franchise that did not use a complete Pokédex. Both games introduced a handful of new features and elements, such as Galar’s setting, making its overall aesthetic more emphasized due to Pokémon Sword and Shield’s advanced graphics.

Generation VIII also paved the way for the Gigantamax versions of Pokémon, making battles more intense and trickier than ever. Galarian forms of some Pokémon also debuted in both games, proving that integration of new ideas into the franchise can spice up the series.

8) Pokémon Gold and Silver

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Pokémon Gold and Silver are the sequels to Red and Blue, introducing Generation II, in which around 100 new Pokémon became available to the Pokédex. The concept of day and night was also incorporated into the games, making the players’ adventure more interesting, especially with how some Pokémon could utilize it as their strength or weakness.

Both games also have 16 gym leaders players should face before going to the big league. A bonus was included when players reached the end of the game: the capability to unlock the bridge going to the Kanto region to revisit the gyms and areas from the original Pokémon region.

7) Pokémon Legends: Arceus

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Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the prequel game to Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, where its events took place in the historic region of Hitsui based in Hokkaido. The game brings the player back to the past, specifically during the Muromachi period, with the objective of collecting more Pokémon and completing the Pokédex.

The game also introduced multiple areas with its open-world gameplay, as well as its hub system and art style. Another notable feature in the game is seen during battles, where players have the option to trade attack damage for additional turns and vice versa. Indeed, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the most advanced Pokémon title so far, with it just being released this January.

6) Pokémon Go

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Pokémon Go is the only Pokémon game on our list that you cannot play on a Nintendo console, Pokémon Go changed the course of augmented-reality games as one of the most popular AR games of all time. This title alone introduced what could be the closest to the actual experience of fighting and catching Pokémon in the wild through its AR feature.

Since its release in 2016, Pokémon Go continues to introduce various events to make a trainer’s experience more engaging, thanks to the mandate of the game to require players to explore real physical spaces and environments to catch different Pokémon along the way, including some Shiny and even Legendary ones.

5) Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire

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The first set of games to introduce Generation III, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire brought a lot of new elements to the whole video game series that are still seen today. This includes two-vs-two battles, Pokémon contests, and various Natures that became vital in bringing out the strengths and weaknesses of different types of Pokémon.

Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were also notable because of their graphics since both games became available on the Game Boy Advance. This made the Hoenn region, including its Pokémon, more appreciated compared to the older games before them. Watch out for other Legendary Pokémon in both games, especially when you see Groudon and Kyogre fighting.

4) Pokémon Diamond and Pearl

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The games that introduced Generation IV, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were some of the franchise’s most commercially and critically successful games. Both games had the most successful launch week of games for Nintendo DS in Japan after selling 3 million units in the country during its first week. Additionally, the UK Official Nintendo Magazine gave them a score of 92.

The games weren’t just defined by their success but also by how they shaped the Pokémon universe with the introduction of trading through Wi-Fi connection thanks to the DS’ internet feature. Both games also made the Pokédex reach up to 500 Pokémon, including various Legendaries such as the games’ cover Pokémon, Dialga and Palkia, and the Lake Guardians Uxie, Azelf, and Mesprit.

3) Pokémon Red and Blue

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The first set of Pokémon games, Pokémon Red and Blue defined a whole generation and left their mark as the games where it all started – the legendary Pokémon franchise of video games. Both titles introduced the standard Pokémon game setting and adventure we all love, producing the formula that has been passed throughout the years.

Pokémon Red and Blue introduced the first 151 Pokémon available in the Pokédex. Both games had the classic Game Boy graphics, which can be considered a lot less advanced compared to what we have today. The nostalgia Red and Blue brings is incomparable, however, especially to those who played the game when it was released in 1996.

2) Pokémon Emerald

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Pokémon Emerald is the upgraded version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. It is still set in the Hoenn region and carried over the Generation III Pokémon, but it provided added elements that brought a different experience for players, such as a wider pool of available Pokémon.

Another feature that hooked players to Emerald is the debut of the Battle Frontier, a new island where you can still compete after beating the Elite Four. Here, you can earn badges from winning matches and purchase more items that are not available in the other parts of the game.

1)  Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

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To cap off our list in the top spot are the remake versions of Pokémon Gold and Silver, known as Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.

Many fans treasure the nostalgia brought by Gold and Silver, and porting it to a much advanced and visually-appealing Nintendo DS is such a treat. Both games also have many features from Pokémon Crystal, like allowing players to choose from using either a male or female avatar character.

Game Freak emphasized the battles visually since both games were catered to the DS console. The Kanto and Johto regions also became more enhanced than ever, making the overall experience of playing both HeartGold and SoulSilver nostalgic yet excellent.

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