12. Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (GBA)

Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (GBA)Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire (GBA)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 19th Mar 2003 (USA) / 25th Jul 2003 (UK/EU)

Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire ushered in the third generation of Pocket Monsters and moved the series on from the stalwart 8-bit Game Boy hardware onto the more capable, wider platform of the Advance.

The removal of the night-day cycle irked some of the Poké-faithful, but Gen III brought with it a host of new features, including 2 vs. 2 battles and the natures mechanic that gave Poké Trainers a whole new stat-filled rabbit hole to go down. The widescreen presentation of the GBA improved the look of the battle screens, and the entire Hoenn region looked incredibly lush compared to 8-bit Kanto and Johto.

11. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (3DS)

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (3DS)Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 21st Nov 2014 (USA) / 28th Nov 2014 (UK/EU)

Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire seem very similar to Pokémon X & Y, as you might expect, but the story and the environments you encounter feel – despite the fact that they are remakes – very fresh and unique. They’re not an extensive upgrade from their other 3DS counterparts, but any Poké-fan who’s played one of the series remakes in the past knows not to expect radical overhauls. These titles should be considered as accompaniments to X & Y, even though they arguably surpassed those games by pushing new ideas such as the Soar ability.

10. Pokémon Black and White (DS)

Pokémon Black and White (DS)Pokémon Black and White (DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 6th Mar 2011 (USA) / 4th Mar 2011 (UK/EU)

Pokémon Black and White may not have the added nostalgia of HeartGold and SoulSilver, but they're up there with some of the best in the series. What they lack in links to the past they gain by recreating the sense of discovery felt when embarking on that first Pokémon journey.

Black and White arguably suffer in reputation from being the only games in the series (thus far) to have direct numbered sequels set in the same region (albeit visiting new locations). Despite being shoved to the back of the queue in some people's minds, these introductions to Gen V are still fantastic games and well worth revisiting.

9. Pokémon Red and Blue (GB)

Pokémon Red and Blue (GB)Pokémon Red and Blue (GB)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 30th Sep 1998 (USA) / 10th May 1999 (UK/EU)

While Pokémon Red & Blue are both vintage games with the occasional issue, they're still extremely engaging and involving titles in which to drown your free time. The gameplay is simpler by modern standards, but there's still a wealth of intricacies and complexity to be explored if you want to train a team to pixel-powered perfection. If you were to drag everything about the game and dump it in a nice, shiny, new 3D engine, you'd be forgiven for thinking these were brand new games, and you can't say that about many Game Boy titles.

There are certain wrinkles that were ironed out in subsequent entries, but there’s a special charm to finding those first 151 Pocket Monsters. Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee may have updated these games for the Switch generation, the depth of the originals still makes them compelling to play on original hardware. Just make sure you’ve got a mate and a link cable — you have to trap all of them!

Hang on, that’s not right.

8. Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (GB)

Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (GB)Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (GB)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 18th Oct 1999 (USA) / 16th Jun 2000 (UK/EU)

This enhanced version of the original games brought over elements from the incredibly popular anime, so Pikachu takes centre stage as your starter Pokémon – he follows you around outside his pokéball and can’t be traded or evolved. The nurses and police officers around Kanto were substituted for Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys, some Pokémon locations and appearances were altered, and various sprites and world elements were reworked to better reflect the wider brand as it had been established since Red & Blue launched.

The western version of Pokémon Yellow got a minor palette enhancement which works well if you’re playing on a Game Boy Color, although this was not a full GBC game. The changes add an extra layer of charm (and the surfing Pikachu minigame is a lot of fun), but whichever version you pick up, the original Pokémon titles remain an enjoyable gaming experience. Simple in appearance and lacking the bells and whistles of later games, they nevertheless engross from start to finish.

7. Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (GBA)

Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (GBA)Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (GBA)
Publisher: The Pokémon Company / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 9th Sep 2004 (USA) / 1st Oct 2004 (UK/EU)

Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen were Game Boy Advance remakes of the classic games that started it all, Pokémon Red & Blue. Yes, the Game Boy originals were known as Red and Green in Japan, because reasons.

Did Pokémon really ever get better than this? That's up for debate, but vastly updated visuals, the ability to connect to various different Pokémon games to collect over 350 Pokémon, and an enhanced user interface were just some of the upgrades offered in this 32-bit revamp. For players intimately familiar with the Kanto games, this was the first opportunity (of many to come, of course) to indulge in some nostalgia and catch the original 151 all over again. Who could possibly resist?

Watch out, Metapod! Or should we call you Metapoo? Ah, the comedy! Happy days.

6. Pokémon Black and White 2 (DS)

Pokémon Black and White 2 (DS)Pokémon Black and White 2 (DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 7th Oct 2012 (USA) / 12th Oct 2012 (UK/EU)

Those who brushed Pokémon Black and White 2 off as simply more of the same at the time were sorely mistaken. On a superficial level the Pokémon games have not changed much, and for good reason; the foundation that was placed way back in Pokémon Red and Blue was incredibly solid and engaging from the off. By adding more around it and tweaking things under the hood, the series has grown far beyond its humble monochromatic origins even if the pace of change is a little more glacial than some would like.

The naming of these entries, their status as the first 'direct' sequels in the franchise, and the fact that they weren't being released on the then-new 3DS console arguably did these games a disservice and masked their greatness. Make no mistake though, these are two of the finest games in the series.