It's fairly amusing to consider that the one video game franchise that can stand toe-to-toe with countless blockbuster multi-platform franchises like GTA and COD is none other than Pokemon, a series exclusive to a single platform, Nintendo. The cultural phenomenon is still alive since its inception of the Game Boy in the late 90s. Coupled with the iconic anime and manga, the series has since captured the hearts of fans around the world, both kids and adults alike.
With the upcoming 9th Generation of new monster-taming goodness with Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, a trip down memory lane is in order to relive the franchise's legacy, especially for newcomers who wish to experience what all the fuss is about before diving into the upcoming Nintendo Switch games. This article will take a look at the 5 greatest games from Nintendo's most popular IP.
These are the 5 best Pokemon games yet for fans to enjoy
5) Pokemon Platinum
The 4th Gen installments Diamond & Pearl for the Nintendo DS made some solid improvements over the previous entries. Released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, Platinum is the standard third edition that usually follows the duology releases. Set in the Sinnoh region, it enhances the Diamond/Platinum plot about the protagonist facing off against the villainous Team Galactic.
Fortunately, the standard gameplay of traveling the world, making new friends and enemies and catching various monsters is retained. However, this entry is the first to include the Physical/Special split of moves, adding further depth to the turn-based battle system. It also introduces the Distortion World, a new level with new puzzle mechanics. It also revolves around the game's mascot, the Ghost/Dragon type Giratina. While the Diamond/Pearl remakes on Nintendo Switch are a thing, they don't offer the balance tweaks that Platinum offers, plus the chibi visuals and watered down writing/set pieces may not be everyone's cup of tea.
4) Pokemon Black/White & Black 2/White 2
Nintendo DS' Black/White and Black 2/White 2 are often considered some of the best in the series and it's hard not to see why since it introduced many new elements and changes that would soon become the series' staples. Two games in one spot might be considered cheating, but it's hard to recommend one or the other since Black 2/White 2 is a sequel. That's right, in a first for the series, the new games were more than just enhanced ports.
Another first is the surprisingly deep and mature storyline. Taking place across the two games, featuring the antagonists Team Plasma and the beloved character N, it brings into question the morality of keeping Pokemon as pets for sport. Gyms, challenge areas where the player fights trainers and their Leader to earn a badge, are more dynamic with 3D set pieces and puzzles. It also introduces reusable TMs (moves that can be taught to your party) as well as Triple and Rotation Battles. Additionally, Black 2/White 2 improve upon graphics with more detailed seasons and even more monsters to catch. If you have to choose one, go with the sequels.
3) Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Released last year for the Nintendo Switch, Legends: Arceus is the black sheep on this list. It is an open-world adventure set a long time before the Sinnoh region came to be. Called the Hisui region, the player who is sent back in time must investigate certain Pokemon going berserk. With regards to gameplay, it's almost a re-imagining of the traditional concept fans have come to know and love.
Players explore the region's ancient Japan-inspired setting and play an in-depth role in catching wild monsters. These critters appear as roaming creatures in the wild that have different behaviors. Players must be stealthy and sneak through bushes and chuck Pokeballs to catch them. If the player is attacked, they can dodge around and, if things get really sticky, battle it out. While gameplay is turn-based again, it introduces the Style system to switch up the pace of combat. While the game was controversial for its bland visuals, the new approach to the formula makes it one of the must-buy games so far.
2) Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
2004's Emerald is one of the most acclaimed games on the Game Boy Advance. Eventual remakes of the original two games (Ruby and Sapphire) were predictable, and they did come on the Nintendo 3DS. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire utilized the X & Y engine to bring the world of Hoenn to life in 3D. Fans will once again take down Team Flare/Aqua and search for Kyogre/Groudon.
It is a 1:1 recreation of the classic 2002 games and retains the same charm they did back then. There were also expected additions like Pokemon Amie and Mega Evolution plus new ones such as improved secret bases, DexNav (to supplement the player's monster hunting experience), open world flight and tons of legendary Pokemon to find. All of this makes OR/AS a marginally better experience than Emerald, despite the omission of key features like the iconic Battle Frontier.
1) Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver
Originally released on the Game Boy Color, the second generation games are arguably the best of them all. After Gold and Silver, Crystal came along as the third entry and improved it even further. While the GBC versions are great for nostalgic reasons, the DS remakes are the definitive versions of the games. Players traverse the nostalgic Johto and Kanto regions with their critters trailing behind them as they relive moments that made the originals iconic.
Throw in new set-pieces, puzzle additions, more Mons and expanded maps across two complete regions, and it is an experience no Pokemon fan should miss. It is true that many of the quality of life improvements made with future entries are nowhere to be found here. However, the sheer variety with the amount of quality content and pacing make it a satisfying journey from start to finish. They aren't just the best Pokemon remakes so far, but they are also the best Pokemon games yet.
This article reflects the personal views of the author.