12. 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 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.

11. 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 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.

10. 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)

Sandwiched right in the soft and gooey centre of this list is Pokémon Red and Blue, the game that kickstarted the Pokémon phenomenon. It introduced the first 150 Pokémon, including series favourites Pikachu, Charmander, and Eevee, and included awesome features for the time, like allowing you to link two Game Boys together to perform multiplayer battles and to trade Pokémon.

What's surprising today is how little the formula's really changed over the years. You still control a character from a third-person perspective, explore an overworld, perform turn-based battles, and catch Pokémon in the wild. Sure, features have been bolted on since then, but the core formula remains the same.

9. Pokémon Sword and Shield (Switch)

Pokémon Sword and Shield (Switch)Pokémon Sword and Shield (Switch)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 15th Nov 2019 (USA) / 15th Nov 2019 (UK/EU)

While it’s tempting to see Pokémon Sword and Shield’s ‘lowly’ placement here as a damning indictment of the mainline series’ (non-remake) home console debut, it’s important to remember that none of the mainline Pokémon games are bad. Even Pokémon Diamond and Pearl way down in 18th place are excellent games, and ranking so many classics inevitably leads to fine entries finding themselves in the back half (see also our list of the best Zelda games if you’re a glutton for that sort of pain). On the other hand, Sword and Shield has the advantage of being new and shiny, so it’ll be fascinating to see how our thoughts about the game evolve and settle over the coming months and years. And of course, updates and patches mean that no game is set in stone anymore and Sword and Shield will likely change over time, too.

As you’ll have no doubt read in our review of the latest game, the lovely Alex enjoyed his time in the Galar region and praised the advances the new title makes on the tried-and-tested template, although Sword and Shield is arguably a case of two steps forward, one step back. The potential is here for a really stunning entry with the inevitable ‘Ultra’ version if Game Freak can just sand off some of the rough edges and find the confidence to push the boundaries and forge new paths with new ideas.

Of course, balancing the old and the new is the perennial problem of any long-running series, and Game Freak has had trouble juggling those elements. Despite some disappointing aspects, though, Pokémon Sword and Shield builds a promising base for the future of Gen 8.

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8. Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)

Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 18th Nov 2016 (USA) / 23rd Nov 2016 (UK/EU)

Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced the seventh generation to the franchise with a wonderful, Hawaiian-themed tropical paradise world known as Alola to explore. This is where those Alolan forms for your favourite Pokémon come from too.

This is where Z-Moves made their introduction, too. These are particularly powerful moves that you can only use once per battle, to help turn the tide.

7. Pokémon Emerald (GBA)

Pokémon Emerald (GBA)Pokémon Emerald (GBA)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: 30th Apr 2005 (USA) / 21st Oct 2005 (UK/EU)

Pokémon Emerald is the ultimate version of Ruby and Sapphire, and it was more evolution than revolution. It included new story elements, updated where you could catch certain Pokémon, and allowed you to catch a greater pool of Pokémon than in its predecessors.