What are the best Pokémon games? Ranking such awesome games proved a lot more difficult than we first anticipated, given how most of them ended up being crowned as the best games of their particular generation.
But we did due diligence, taking into account our own review scores, your user scores, and the opinions of critics across the web. We popped it all in a pot, gave it a big stir, and - as we always do - sprinkled in some of our secret sauce to arrive at this list.
So read on for where each of the mainline Pokémon games sit in our ranking order, from the less good to the very best. To be clear, this is just the mainline entries – the games that introduced a new generation of Pokémon to the mix, their sequels, and the ultimate versions of those games.
And yes, Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! is included; after all, it is a mainline Pokémon game in the same sense that all of the remakes are. If Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon, Pokémon Crystal, or Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire can make the list, so can Let's Go!
Pokémon Diamond & Pearl is the first DS entry in the monster-collecting franchise, and it introduced a bunch of new features. For the first time ever, you could play over the internet and battle other trainers globally, or use DS Wireless to play locally. Other new features include increasing the times of day from three to five, a revamp of the moves system, and, of course, a brand new generation of monsters.
So far it all sounds pretty positive, so why does it sit at the bottom of this list? Well, the general gameplay flow wasn't really changed all that much from its predecessors, and both the visuals and audio weren't particularly well-received. It's still an excellent game – as all mainline Pokémon games are – but the lack of a gameplay revamp and the dodgy visuals and audio did hurt it somewhat.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon suffers from similar issues as Diamond & Pearl. This is an expanded version of the seventh generation Sun and Moon, and includes new story elements, Ultra Beasts, and new forms for the Legendary Pokémon Necrozma. Alongside all of this is the ability to surf, take photos with your Pokémon, and to collect Totem Stickers.
There are definitely some nice new features there that provide more of what you love from Sun and Moon, but it's not enough to bump it above the other mainline Pokémon entries.
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Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire was the first entry in the franchise to grace the Game Boy Advance, and introduced double battles, allowing each trainer in a battle to fight with two Pokémon, and multi battles, which saw two teams of two trainers battle each other.
The Pokémon themselves were also changed up a little bit, with each species now having innate abilities like being immune to certain moves. Each individual Pokémon also now has a nature, which affects the statistics of that Pokémon directly.
Next up is X and Y, the first Pokémon title on Nintendo 3DS. It introduced the sixth generation of Pokémon, fully 3D visuals for the first time in a mainline Pokémon game, and allowed you to completely customise your trainer's appearance.
Other exciting new additions include the ability for certain Pokémon to Mega Evolve temporarily into a more powerful form, battles that take place in the sky with flying Pokémon, and Horde Encounters, in which you can take on five Pokémon at the same time.
Pokémon Yellow is the ultimate version of Pokémon Red and Blue. You automatically started with Pikachu as your starter Pokémon, which was given a voice and personality, and followed you around on the overworld map. Over time, your Pikachu would react to your actions, and its feelings for you would change. There was also a brand new surfing minigame in which you could surf on Pikachu's back.
We feel like Pokémon: Let's Go does enough to beat Yellow, the first attempt to create the ultimate version of Red and Blue, but isn't quite up to scratch with FireRed and LeafGreen. But that's okay – Let's Go is designed to help ease in the brand new audience brought in by Pokémon GO to the core games ahead of whatever Pokémon 2019 is going to be.
It's also likely that a few of the quality of life features will make it into future games too, like catch combos, being able to see the Pokémon you can catch, and perhaps some form of motion controls.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is yet another enhanced remake of an earlier Pokémon title, in this instance Ruby and Sapphire. It launched on 3DS shortly after X and Y, and included certain features from the sixth generation like Mega Evolution. Other fun additions include the ability to fly around Hoenn on Latios or Latias.
Pokémon Black and White introduced the fifth generation of Pokémon to the franchise and was praised for its intriguing and complex plot. New features included fully animated sprites for your Pokémon during battles, a seasonal cycle, which affected the environment visually and areas you can visit, and triple and rotation battles, both of which let you fight with three Pokémon summoned at once.