10 best Pokémon games, according to Ranker

Being the most lucrative media franchise of all time, Pokemon has built up a vast catalog of beloved main games over its more than 25 year history. While the more recent entries have gone beyond the conventional formula, the franchise gained a lot of credit for its early days and throughout the late 2000s.

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The Ranker voting community has rounded up the 10 best games in the main series, made up of what most fans consider to be time-tested classics. They range from the original Game Boy to the portable game changer that was the Nintendo DS.

ten Crystal Pokémon

The legendary Pokémon Suicune on sale for Crystal

While the “third version game” is one of the many aspects of Pokémon games that have aged badly, Crystal offered the full experience for the famous Johto game collection. It adjusted some of the wild encounters players could find to make certain species more accessible, as well as additional story and gameplay mechanics.

The Suicune side quest was a welcome addition for a fan favorite Legendary Pokémon. Even more then, Crystal was the start of the Battle Tower, which greatly helped provide more end-game content and a refreshing challenge. Its re-release of the 3DS Virtual Console also incorporated Celebi’s side quest around the world for the first time.

9 Pokémon Red & Blue

The games that started it all were revolutionary in 1996 (Japan) and 1998 (internationally). They introduced classic Pokémon that even people unfamiliar with the franchise were familiar with while redefining portable multiplayer elements. Completing the Pokédex was something more realistic back then, creating and establishing the series’ addicting gameplay loop that has lasted so long.

Naturally, the games are incredibly dated by today’s standards, and nostalgia certainly has a role to play. But for those who have the 3DS Virtual Console versions, they sure can still be entertaining games throughout the history of gaming.


8 Pokémon Diamond & Pearl

Dialga and Palkia on sale for Diamond and Pearl on DS

For many longtime fans, the 2006s diamond and pearl the games were the next big starting points for the franchise. They were the first mainstream games on the Nintendo DS, using new features to make older Game Boy Advance games compatible and refining the series’ vintage pixel art to a whole new level.

The higher resolution graphics were created for some of the franchise’s most memorable locations. And, of course, it introduced a new batch of some of the most used Pokémon to date. Even more now with the recent Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearl remakes for the Nintendo Switch.

seven Pokémon Yellow

Pikachu on the cover of Pokémon Yellow

Without counting Red Blue/Green, Yellow was technically the “first” third release game in the series. The game, as expected, saw most of the content of its predecessors unchanged, but made some fun tweaks to capitalize on the Pokemon the resounding success of the anime.

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Characters like Jesse and James from Team Rocket have appeared, and the player even starts off with a Pikachu. Likewise, it took a few welcome hints from specific episodes for players to get Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur in the same game. Regarding related games, Yellow provided enough twists and turns for the time to justify its release.

6 Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire

Groudon and Kyogre and red and blue backgrounds in Ruby / Sapphire promotional art

The Hoenn region ushered in the Game Boy Advance era of Pokémon with Ruby and Sapphire in 2002/2003. While the pixel art color scheme of GBA games is somewhat washed out, they still hold up well today.

These games marked the beginning of much needed quality of life improvements for Pokemon, like adding running shoes to speed up the crossing. Lots of new creatures from Ruby and SapphireThe Generation of is also considered by many fans to be a classic today, including the iconic Legendary trio.

5 Pokémon Gold and Silver

Ho-Oh and Lugia on Gold and Blue Background for Gold / Silver Promotional Art for 3DS Virtual Console

The first games from the Johto region served as great models to make great sequels. Gold and Silver substantially improved in all aspects of Red, Blue, and Yellow thinkable. In addition to bringing 100 new species of Pokémon, the games have tightened technical performance, significantly improved 2D sprites / pixel art, and provided more post-game content.

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To date, it offers a fan-favorite feature that has yet to return to a main game, which is being able to revert to the previous region. Being able to earn 16 Gym Badges and fight off the protagonist in early games is a great example of fan service with substance.

4 Fire Red & Leaf Green Pokémon

A roaring Charizard and a Venusaur on a swirling red and green background for FireRed / LeafGreen promotional art

While fans are mostly tired of the Kanto region receiving disproportionate amounts of fanservice, Red fire and Leaf green were great remakes of the GBA originals. This is arguably the definitive way to play through the first generation of Pokémon games, if players have access to it.

Although the Yellow remakes for the Switch – Let’s go, Pikachu! / Eevee! – were solid nostalgia trips with a twist, Red fire and Leaf green had a better balance between loyalty and new content. The main story is that of the originals with all the modern (and desperately needed) upgrades, the Sevii Islands post-game questline, the 2-3 generation Pokémon they brought along, as well as the connectivity with Ruby/Sapphire/emerald.

3 Pokemon Emerald

The legendary green dragon Pokémon Rayquaza floating in promotional art for Emerald

The third version of the Hoenn Region game was the easiest way to play through the generation at the time. emerald slightly modified the story of Ruby and Sapphire to include flagship Rayquaza as a star. Meanwhile, it always gave players the chance to get both Groudon and Kyogre in the postgame.

In addition, emerald also brought back a few generations 1-2 Pokémon, which were badly needed to refresh the region’s available roster. Another longtime fan favorite feature debuted here in the form of Battle Frontier. This post-match setup was an exciting challenge for players who released different gadgets to make players adapt to combat. Earning their seven medals was a great way to naturally extend playing time for those who were hungry for new obstacles to overcome.

2 Pokémon Platinum

Promotional art for Pokémon Platinum

diamond and pearl were certainly well received upon release, but they encountered gameplay issues that hampered the experience somewhat over time. Platinum Fixed issues with the original pair, namely slow character movement and text speed that hindered the pace of games. However, another notable change was the increase in the main game’s regional Pokédex from 150 species to 210.

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As awesome as Sinnoh was, he needed to step up his variety of wild Pokémon. In terms of new gameplay features, it included the world of warp with the new form of Giratina and the first DS version of Battle Frontier. Even after Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearl, this might be the best way to play Sinnoh if the players still have it on hand.

1 Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver

Ho-Oh and Lugia on promo for HeartGold and SoulSilver on gold and silver background

Many fans frequently cite them as the best games in the franchise, so it’s no surprise to see Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver the list of the best rankings. These are perhaps the best remakes of the franchise as a whole, faithfully recreating what made Gold, Silver, and even Crystal as tall as they were. But more importantly, it added more to the main story and the postgame to make them really useful.

More Pokémon from Generation 1 and 2, plus 3 and 4 have been added during modified wild encounters. This includes a Safari zone and several post-match side quests for other species. Probably the only problem with HeartGold and SoulSilver did not fix the admittedly poor level curve of the originals.

NEXT: 10 Most Iconic Pokémon From Generation 2

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