Five Awesome Pokemon Spin-Offs You Should Try

You're probably jonesing for some sweet Alpha Sapphire or Omega Ruby action, but give these Pokemon spin-off games a try, too!

With Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire out in the wild, there's never been a better time to be a Pokémaniac. There's a veritable menagerie of excellent games out there that belong to the Pokémon series that aren't exactly role-playing adventures, but awesome nevertheless. Even if you took the plunge and bought the excellent new remakes, there's still plenty to be found in each of these games that should please any rabid Pokémaniac.

1. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (Nintendo 3DS)

The Mystery Dungeon series is an intriguing companion to the flagship Pokémon titles, offering a different sort of challenge beyond simple catch, battle, and evolve mechanics. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity makes the series' very first 3DS appearance. Alongside the monster partner of your choosing, you wander around these randomized dungeons to tackle various wild Pokemon, collect items, and earn experience points -- eventually growing a small squad of monsters to aid you in your quest. Not only is this one in particular the newest spin-off game, but it's also one of the best. 

2. Pokémon Trading Card Game (Game Boy Color)

 The addictive and exciting trading card game made its way to Game Boy Color back during the heyday of the physical cards, and the Game Boy iteration married the fast-paced nature of the card game with role-playing mechanics that felt a lot like the original Pokémon titles in tone and in scope. While we never received an official translation of the excellent sequel, the first one is worth every second of your time and is one of the greatest Pokémon titles you can find. 

 3. Pokémon Puzzle Challenge (Game Boy Color)

Every major franchise needs its own puzzler, and Pokémon has them in droves, specifically Pokémon Puzzle Challenge, which is an engaging blend of Pokemon and the matching madness of the free-to-play titles many gamers enjoy today. This one was an especially interesting adventure that not only made an appearance on the Game Boy, but also N64. Swapping the multicolored tiles with shapes like stars, hearts, and more will quickly take you over, so a brief warning is probably necessary here -- it's addictive! Watch how much you play!

4. Pokémon Pinball (Game Boy Color)

Having personally spent many a night during my youth with the bulky Pokémon Pinball cartridge and capturing the monsters I dearly loved, I can attest that this pinball title is one of the most animated examples out there since Kirby's pinball endeavor, or even Revenge of the Gator. Coloful and rife with awesome chances to catch 'em all, it's one solo adventure you'll be happy you took.

5. Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia (Nintendo DS)

Pokémon Ranger is a bit strange, but it's still a lot of fun nevertheless. You're charged with capturing Pokémon with a device called a "capture styler", controlled by the DS stylus. To capture the monster, you have to draw circles around them instead of throwing Poké Balls, and the styler itself has its own health bar. It's an interesting alternative to traditional Pokémon battles, giving a new perspective on the classic in-game worlds and offering something new for longtime fans. 

Of course, this is in no way a definitive list of what the world of Pokémon has to offer. I touched upon some of the lesser-known titles in this list, but you can't forget things like Pokémon Snap, Hey You, Pikachu! and Pokémon Stadium. Which ones are your favorites and why? 

Published Nov. 22nd 2014

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