What is the Best Pokemon Game? Pokemon Games Ranked Best to Worst

A Pokemon handheld game ranking from best to worst.

Pokémon is one of the best-selling games of all time. The franchise takes the number one spot in best-selling game for Gameboy/Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advanced, and Nintendo 3DS.

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I’ve been a Pokémon fan since as far back as I can remember. Along with books, games were an escape from day-to-day reality; which as a kid, can sometimes be daunting. Between curfew, always having to go with my parents EVERYWHERE (oil changes were the worst), and school, there are always certain things kids turn to for “escape”. For me it was anime, novels, and Pokémon. Pokémon hold its own category because it was so massively important to me. The show, the cards, the video games. To this day I collect plushies and figures. I have played every Pokémon game to date, and would like to rank the handheld games from best to worst.

Please keep in mind that this is an opinion piece and it does not represent the official thoughts of GameSkinny. 

#1. Pokémon Gold & Silver/Crystal

RATINGS
IGN: 10/9

GAMESPOT: 8.8/ 8.4

COPIES SOLD: 23 Million

As I have mentioned, this is a personal ranking, and the reason for Generation 2 being my favorite go beyond just the game. The first time I played Gold and Silver, I really enjoyed the new types, 16 gyms, story, legendaries, etc. But when my father brought home Crystal one day, I could not contain myself. I didn’t care that it was roughly the same game because I could play as a girl. Pokémon adventures were for girls too! I was only 8 years old. In fact, I had played every Pokémon game from Red, Yellow, and Silver that same year. I had also felt embarrassed to tell my friends who were girls that I loved Pokémon so much, especially since you could never play as a girl. But now, that had changed. 

G/S/C brought two new types: Dark and Steel, the chance to go back to Kanto and complete the 8 badges after the Johto League, and 100 new Pokémon. They were the first Pokémon games to incorporate day and night. The new legendary Pokémon, Ho-oh and Lugia, had captivating stories behind them, as did Suicune in Crystal. All around, these games were perfect. Game sales wise, this game (Gold and Silver) sold 23 million copies worldwide. Crystal sold less, with 3.85 million.

In 2009, Gold and Silver remakes were released with updated graphics, an adorable feature where the first Pokémon in your party followed out around (Yes, even Wailord), and a Pokéwalker. The Pokéwalker allowed you to transfer one Pokémon to the device, and carry it around on your belt or pants. It had a pedometer, and with each step, the Pokémon inside would gain experience. You could also catch Pokémon and collect items, then transfer them to your game. Pokémon Heartgold and Soulsilver sold 12.72 million copies, staying in the top 10 best selling games for Nintendo DS. 

#2. Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire/Emerald

RATINGS 
IGN: 9.5/8

GAMESPOT: 8.1/ 7.5 

COPIES SOLD: 16.22 million/6.32 million


These games are pretty much tied with my #1 choice. Ranking is difficult…

I was 10 years old when Ruby and Sapphire released, and I literally replayed the story about 5 times. How could I not? It’s the best-selling GBA game for a reason. The graphics improved miles past the previous generation, the digital scenery is wonderful, you have a dad. With 135 new Pokémon, new types of Pokéballs, Pokémon Contests, secret bases, and, in Pokémon Emerald, the introduction of Battle Frontier, Pokémon R/S/E revolutionized the Pokémon games. Pokémon Emerald went even further, with a wireless adapter that, finally, took Pokémon battling and trading to a new technological level. The story involved two criminal organizations, one that wanted to flood the world, and the other that wanted to cover it in land. Pretty ridiculous. But Pokémon battles within deserts, volcanos, and oceans are unforgettable. Taking the cable car up the Mt. Chimney and diving were two of my favorite things.

Remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were announced this year, titled Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. To see this amazing game in 3D graphics is beyond exciting. R/S/E brought so many fun features to the table. They are easily one of the best generations and I cannot wait for the remakes.

#3. Pokémon Red & Blue/Yellow

RATINGS
IGN:10/10

GAMESPOT: 8.8/8.9

COPIES SOLD: 23.64 million 

As the games that begun a whole era, sold 23.64 million copies worldwide, and made so many people fall in love with Pokémon, Pokémon R/B/Y are probably the top game for some. If I could, I would put the first 3 in my ranking as #1. Alas, that is impossible.

Pokémon Red and Blue changed the gaming world. Pocket Monsters coming to life, travelling the world at 10 years old, and being oh, so patient in doing so (referring to the walking speed). Oh the years without running shoes. Despite the flaws, which are easily pointed out now over 16 years later, Pokémon R/B/Y was the perfect game. It was such a satisfying adventure, to travel Kanto kicking butt and catching Poke’s. Pokémon Yellow only made it better with an adorable Pikachu following you and trainers that were oh so eager to give up their really rare starter Pokémon. Yeah it’s cliche, but my team was Pikachu, Charmander, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Pidgey, and Caterpie immediately (You’d be proud, Ash). 

Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen only improved the adventure. Updated PC, bag space, and the ability to run! The wonders 8 years can do to walking speed. Plus the début of wireless trading and battling, detailed Pokémon sprite designs, and more of your favorite rival “smelling ya later.” This game is nostalgia painted beautifully. The remakes sold 11.82 million copies worldwide, becoming the 2nd best-selling GBA game after Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. In fact, Pokémon dominated the GBA charts, taking spots #1,#2, and #3 (with Emerald). 

#4. Pokémon X & Y

RATINGS
IGN: 9

GAMESPOT: 8

COPIES SOLD: 12.26 million

I almost put this game lower on the list because I found that it tried to avoid some of the fundamental things that make a Pokémon game what it is: grinding. I also found it terribly easy. I know, I know, I’m older now, it should be easier, but when you beat the Elite Four + Champion with only a Lapras, there is a problem. 

Regardless, Pokémon X and Y were thoroughly enjoyable. Finally Pokémon surpasses the 3D graphics of Pokémon Stadium. Although the graphic jump from game to game is always giant, from Black and White 2 to this, the jump was massive. Full 3D characters, Pokémon, and cities; Pokémon with facial expressions, and an attractive Professor! This game had it all. Pokemon-Amie, Mega Evolutions, Character designs, movie-making, facilitated trading, Wonder-trading, a new Dragon-slaying Fairy Type, Super-training, the list goes on.

With Mega evolution as the big reveal, Pokémon X and Y has become the turning point for new Pokémon games. There are still so many Pokémon to be Mega-Evolved and so much time. This is the best-selling Nintendo 3DS game to date, and well deserved. The new game mechanics are very well-done, the story is heartfelt, and the there are hundreds of things to do even after beating the game.

#5. Pokémon Black 2 & White 2

RATINGS
IGN: 9.6

GAMESPOT: 6.5 

COPIES SOLD: 7.81 million

These sequels definitely were an improvement over their predecessors. It could be because of my age, but it was very satisfying to see familiar Pokémon. I also enjoyed the idea of a sequel, rather than just a 3rd game with slightly new and improved features, like all the previous games had done. 

Bit by bit, Pokémon is adding new things to get used to. This game introduced DNA splicers and allowed the mascot Pokémon, Kyurem, to “absofuse” with either Reshiram or Zekrom, creating Black Kyurem or White Kyurem. The Dream World feature was also cool. But overall the game didn’t keep me as entertained as earlier ones. Even though I enjoyed it more than Black and White, it felt strange given that Team Plasma kept with their same “free the Pokemon” argument after what was uncovered in the prequels.

#6. Pokémon Diamond & Pearl/Platinum

RATINGS
IGN: 8.5/ 8.8

GAMESPOT: 8.5/ 8

COPIES SOLD: 17.63 million/ 7.06 million

As the first Nintendo DS Pokémon games, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl sold 17.63 million copies worldwide. The story tackles the creation of time and space, and features 107 new Pokémon to catch and love.

Some of my fondest memories of this game are making Poffins to feed my Pokémon and the contests which, although did not surpass Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald contests, were still pretty cute. I liked accessorizing my Pokémon and making them dance. Also, the Elite Four Champion, Cynthia, is probably my favorite champion after Blue. It’s nice to see Champions using all types of Pokémon; it makes it more challenging. The Pokétch was another cool feature. It came loaded with useful “apps” like a calculator, dowsing machine, a Pokémon daycare tracker, move tester, and more.

Despite this, I thought the new Pokémon designs were bland. Platinum brought a whole new world to the game, the Distortion World, but it was a letdown after the amount it was advertised. Don’t get me wrong, these games were good, really good, but they did not best their predecessors. 

#7. Pokémon Black & White

RATINGS
IGN: 9

GAMESPOT: 7.5

COPIES SOLD: 15.58 million

Being last on the list does not mean these games were bad, it just means I didn’t enjoy them as much as the ones above. Ratings and sales-wise, they did great. The story introduced a new ethical question that Pokémon games had never addressed before: Is it wrong to use Pokémon to battle? The main antagonist, N, spends the game telling you that Pokémon should be free, and simultaneously, battling you with Pokémon. Unfortunately they miss the chance to make the questioning of Pokémon battling an important theme, which would have been great.

What happened to me while playing this game was that I was overwhelmed with the new Pokémon. The game didn’t give you anything familiar until you beat it. They treated you like Ash, new region, new Pokémon, go. Perhaps if I was younger, I would have enjoyed it. But the fact that there were 151 new Pokémon, without any old ones included, made the game less nostalgic and less enjoyable. Plus I found a lot of the new Pokémon to appear quickly drawn and less likeable. 

 

So that’s it! That’s my ranking. Feel free to argue/agree in the comments, or let me know if I missed anything. For all Pokémon news keep up with GameSkinny.com.


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Author
poliwagg
Hello! I'm Val, a 23 year old college graduate. I've been interested in video games since I was very young, Pokemon being my first (and constant) love. Along the years I have become attached to RPGs and adventure games. I play League periodically (not well), but apart from that, I don't play anything online nor competitively (Though I was a frequent TPP player and I've logged onto GTA Online a few times...). I tend to prefer solo games, unless it's with people in the same room. In those cases, Mario Party, Little Big Planet, Quake, and more, all the way! I am really into anime and try to keep up with the new ones season by season (so many). And yeah I have no idea if I'm writing this right, but thank you for reading!