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The best Pokémon games of all time

Picture of Pikachu
Pikachu, who we hope would approve of our list of the best Pokémon games of all time

The Pokémon brand has expanded over the last two decades to encompass TV shows, movies, apparel, and smart phone apps — but it all started with the games.

First released in 1996 in Japan, and most other countries in 1998, Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters) took over the gaming industry as one of the most popular role-playing games of all time.

The original Pokédex contained the original 151 Pokémon, and twenty years later the number has grown to over 700.

Our list doesn’t include Pokémon Go. It obviously gets an honorary mention, but despite its revolutionary approach to gaming it can’t really be classed in the same category as the other games in the Pokémon series.

Here’s our list of the Top Ten Pokémon games you need to play

10 Black & White

Pokemon Black and White boxes
The covers for Pokemon Black and White

Pokémon Black and White represent Generation V of Pokémon.

The player is travelling across the Unova region, and unlike previous versions, the only Pokémon available are from Generation V — previous generations are accessible only after beating Team Plasma.

For the first time, a storyline is continued in the next game — Pokémon Black and White 2 — with the timeline shifting forward two years.

This game continues where previous versions left off, with highly improved graphics.

Pokémon battles are more life like with fully animated sprites and dynamic camera angles.

A new feature involves Pokémon musicals, which replace Pokémon contests, where Pokémon compete by dancing on state with other contestants.

9 X & Y

Pokemon X and Y boxes
The covers for Pokemon X and Y

Pokémon X and Y represented Generation VI in the games, and took place in the new Kalos region.

This game contains the highest level of Pokémon graphics to date; featuring complete 3D gameplay, with 3D modeled characters, rather than sprites.

Players are also able to move in eight different directions, thanks to the 3DS track pad. This game also features horde encounters, sky battles, super training, and trainer customization.

X and Y have so many new features when compared with the old games, allowing for a completely new experience.

Bonus: New Mega Evolutions were introduced to this generation, creating a whole new level of badass.

8 Red & Blue

Pokemon Red and Blue boxes
The covers for Pokemon Red and Blue

Pokémon Red and Blue started it all. Sort of. These were the core pair that started the international craze for Pokémon games, focusing on Generation I and the original 151.

This game takes place in the Kanto region, where the trainer is seeking to obtain all eight gym badges by defeating the leaders.

After receiving the badges, the player challenges the Elite Four and the Pokémon Champion. After defeating the last trainer, the player is deemed the new Pokémon Champion.

Though some may find the graphics lacking compared to the newer games, it is the nostalgia that holds this game firmly on our list.

7 Gold & Silver

Pokemon Gold and Silver boxes
The covers for Pokemon Gold and Silver

Pokémon Gold and Silver were the first core games released in Generation II, where the players were introduced to the Johto league for the first time, bringing an array of never before seen Pokémon.

Later in the game, it is possible to revisit the Kanto region and gyms.

For the first time, the player’s bag is organized into different compartments to store items such as healing potions, Pokéballs, and gear.

Another new feature involved a time system — morning, day and night.

This feature led to certain Pokémon showing up at exclusive times. Bonus: This game introduced Shiny Pokémon for the first time.

6 Crystal

Pokemon Crystal box
The cover for Pokemon Crystal

Pokémon Crystal is the sister game to Pokémon Gold and Silver, and is the third and final game introduced in Generation II.

This game takes place in the Johto region, with the ability to access Kanto regions after defeating the Final Four. Crystal is the first Pokémon game where the player had the option to select a female avatar.

Players also have the option to capture Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. Crystal is also the first Pokémon game where the legendary Pokémon are a part of the overall plotline.

Fun Fact: Crystal was the first Pokémon to include animated sprites, but were not reintroduced until Emerald!

5 Diamond & Pearl

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl boxes
The covers for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were the first games released in Generation IV, taking place in the Sinnoh region.

This game and generation was a major release for the Pokémon brand. For the first time, the graphics were designed to appear more 3D, instead of the standard 2D style.

As the first game offered on DS, Diamond and Pearl makes use of the dual screens to improve game play.

This game also introduced the Pokétch, a Pokémon watch, accessible from the lower touch screen on the DS.

It included twenty-five apps, but the player only starts with four at the beginning. You do not want to miss this game!

4 Ruby & Sapphire

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire boxes
The covers for Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were the core-pairing released in Generation III, similar to their predecessors, Red and Blue.

Set in the Hoenn region, trainers are meant to challenge and fight Team Aqua or Team Magma—two crime organizations trying to capture the ancient Pokémon Kyrogre and Groudon.

This is the first generation to include Pokémon contests—allowing you to train your Pokémon to do more than fight.

The goal is to show off your Pokémon in different categories against other fictional trainers to compete for first place!

Fun Fact: Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were 10th on IGN’s Top 25 Game Boy Advance Games of All Time!

3 Emerald

Pokemon Emerald box
The cover for Pokemon Emerald

Pokémon Emerald is the sister game to Sapphire and Ruby, and the last installment in Generation III of Pokémon games.

Taking place in the Hoenn region, the story is altered from the plotline in Sapphire and Ruby.

The gym leaders have some different Pokémon; double battles are more common, new areas are introduced with earlier generations of Pokémon, and much more.

This game allows the user to capture three ancient Pokémon before facing the Elite Four: Groudon, Kyrogre and Rayquaza. For the best experience, play Emerald after playing Sapphire or Ruby to appreciate all the improvements.

2 FireRed & LeafGreen

Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen boxes
The covers for Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen

Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green are the first remakes in the Pokémon franchise.

Taking place in the Kanto region, this game features the original 151 Pokémon, while following along with the same storyline as the Generation I games.

This is the first time that the player can choose between a female or male protagonist in a Generation I game.

This game is near the top of the list because it encapsulates the original story we love, packaged with better graphics and gaming experience. If you’re looking for Generation I Pokémon, this is the game to play!

1 Yellow

Pokemon Yellow boxes
The cover for Pokemon Yellow

Pokémon Yellow is at the top of our list for a few reasons. It was the second Pokémon release in America, coming out in 1999 — one year after Red and Blue.

Pokémon: Indigo League had been airing for one year, and this game was heavily influenced by the show.

The trainer starts out with Pikachu, instead of choosing between one of the three starters. Throughout the game, it is possible to get Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander, which follows the show’s format.

This game is perfect for those nostalgia-seeking gamers with a soft spot for Pokémon. Fun Fact: This was the first Pokémon game to included limited use of color.

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