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.

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. 

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. 

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.


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). 

IGN: 9


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.

IGN: 9.6


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.

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. 

IGN: 9


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.

Featured Contributor

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...more »

Published Aug. 8th 2014
  • Poke super fan
    Pokemon x and y should be number one
  • chris_7707
    none there all shite
  • Charley Holsinger
    Also, I highly recommend X & Y. It's a really fun journey.
  • Charley Holsinger
    I wold also liked to add that starters designs are still really great, and even they're second evolutions are incredibly strong in the last three gens, but some of the final forms have been terrible or just uninteresting (the grass/fighter from x&y was my favorite until it evolved...lol)
  • Charley Holsinger
    I really loved the 4th gen diamond and pearl games. They hold a huge place in my heart for having an incredibly memorable soundtrack (and I liked many of the pokemon designs). However, I agree that pokemon designs went on a steady decline, with a slight surge in the newest x and y. Black and White were the least memorable, but I actually appreciate how they had 151 NEW pokemon. I like new pokemon, whether they're good or bad. Emerald and Gold version are a tie for my favorite of all time. Emerald had the oh-so-amazing battle frontier, which really made pokemon hard FOR ONCE. and Gold, besides being my first one, was just simply magical with the amount of content and mystery to it, and he old school music just gets me in the feels. I will always play pokemon, and hope to challenge my kids one day!
  • Emily Nguyen
    I followed Pokemon since it was first shown on TV Until now I still keep my hobby to play Pokemon games at http://www.pokemongamesonly.com because it is totally free.
  • Logan_9060
    Black and White 2 Were Terrible Games
  • Mikey_1629
    My favorite is G/S/C and the remakes too. But I would have to put X and Y back a little.
  • J-Marvin
    Val just want to say I am so happy to see another pokemon lover. Keep it up :) By the way, for me R/S/E are tied with FR/LG in 1st spot and a very near 2nd is G/S/C.. it captured my imagination when I was a child :)
  • John Ramsey
    Can you do reviews on Pokémon Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness, please? :) I feel as though those two titles are sorely underrated, and not for good reason.
  • Paul_8335
    Thanks for the post. I was just passing by to see if playing the new games are worth the money. We have a Nintendo DS with no games for it. Do you think I should skip on these? I already have Blue, Crystal, Ruby, and FireRed. Also can DS games trade with 3DS games?
  • Kirbyfan24
    Quit bashing on Gen V - it took more risks (bar Gen I, of course) and showed more maturity compared to the other generations. Gen V was a breath of fresh air for the franchise, unlike Gen VI which was all about the graphics.
  • New poke player
    Why is there no new emerald edition
  • Molika_1650
    i am big fan of online Pokemon games i just love Pokemon games. i am always play pokemon games here http://ipokemongames.net/ as all games are free at this site.
  • Chai Chien Liang
    Agree with Gold/Silver being the best, haven't played any of the newer ones though!

    Played Gold right till the end, it was amazing that they included so much new content and some epic final fights against some legendary trainers ;)

    Red Gyarados and thrash were also really fun to use (though stats wise a Magikarp trained one would trump it but that shiny red glow when it comes out, so shiny...)
  • poliwagg
    Featured Contributor
    Yessss. I recommend you play some newer ones! They are still good. :3
    And of course. Pokemon party priority 1. SHINY 2. Stats 3. Looks cool hahaha
  • John_3367
    I would definitely not put X/Y that low. I felt like X/Y easily have the best and most complete gameplay of any Pokemon game so far. The game felt really solidly designed and the new easier way of seeing your EVs and other things were great, adding much needed transparency. Being able to dress up my character is also amazing. All the cute hats!!! Just amazing, though I never understood how to unlock the store with the most fancy/fashionable items. I will agree that it was quite easy, and especially the new exp share is a big offender as it completely trivializes training your team. It just becomes so boring and easy. I immediately disabled the exp share as soon as I understood what it did. It was definitely a big mistake... I hope that ORAS don't have the new exp share, but I suspect that it will. Pokemon games rarely go back on "advancements".
    Overall I will put X/Y as top 3 of all time simply because the advancements and new features make them the most enjoyable pokemon games made so far simply from a gameplay mechanics standpoint. I enjoyed X thoroughly all the way to the finish, to the point where I ended up buying Y on the e-store afterwards.

    I also think Platinum is much better than you give it credit for. I thought it was really polished, the world had quite a few memorable areas like the snow route, the garden city, the moss forest, the volcanic mountain, and so on. And the pokemon were overall cool (like Roserade), and being able to get an eevee fairly early was nice. Also the villain team is absolutely amazing, Galactic such sleek designs, and great music too. Loved all the admins and Cyrus is a 2cool.

    Regardless, gen 5 was without a doubt the weakest one. I did not enjoy either BW or BW2 very much. The world doesn't feel terribly interesting, I didn't really like any of the new pokemon except maybe the fighting clown and the dark crocodile. So many bland/boring designs. Gen 3 and 4 felt like they had a TON more awesome designs, like Weavile, Gardevoir, Metagross, Flygon, Blaziken, Aggron, et cetera ad nauseam. Meanwhile gen5 has the dubious honor of being the first and only gen where I disliked all the starters! That's a terrible thing indeed, I usually always have at least one starter I like, but not liking any of them put me in a tough spot. I liked the otter but hated its final evolution. It's a train wreck of a design in my mind. One good thing about BW2 at least was that you were able to catch a Riolu early on. Lucario is awesome, and Riolu is usually super hard to find, or you find it so late that at that point I already have a finalized roster. Being able to get it early was really fun. I love that cute little bugger. Woof.

    For me, the train didn't start with Crystal as it did with so many; nearly all pokemon fans I meet have it as their favorite. I didn't think it was that great at the time actually and I still don't. The remakes are amazing though. But yeah, I didn't enjoy the tower packed full of belsprout trainers, I thought being able to go back to Kanto was a nice idea but when you got there it felt void and empty, very underwhelming. And all the zubats pissed me off. Still, a lot of the cities and characters are enjoyable. So anyway, for me, it started with RSE, and Emerald is still my #1 favorite. I just adore the world, the more humid themes really appeal to me, it's exotic. Such nice memorable places like the hot springs and the monsoon forest route & city. And an extremely high amount of awesome pokemon like Cradily, Shiftry, Zigzagoon, and other abovementioned ones. Hopefully ORAS will be a perfect successor and it will become my favorite pokemon game of all time.
  • poliwagg
    Featured Contributor
    Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed X/Y... I was just upset by how wasy it was. But the features and story were absolutely wonderful. Being a Pokemon fan for so long though, I just didn't like it AS much as others. Like I noted, the first three are just like, equally glorious to me So X/Y is sort of like 2nd...

    You're right about Platinum. It's been a while since I've played. I probably should have placed it before Black 2 (it was very debated). I just didn't like Sinnoh as much when I think back. I played through Sinnoh like 4 times: Diamond, Diamond again when my copy was stolen, Pearl and Platinum. 4 times and I don't remember it as well as Red and Blue or Emerald... But now that you mention all the areas, they were pretty cool. Although Defog is up there as one of the most annoying HMs...

    I def enjoyed Black2 and White 2 more than Black and White 1. Too many lazy Pokemon designs. Gen 3 has some of my FAVOURITE designs (Flygon, Absol <3).

    And I hope I expressed it well in the rating, but Emerald could easily be first. Crystal just had that "first time being a girl" memory. BUt I absolutely ADORE the Hoenn region and all of its cities and Pokemon. I literally teared up when ORAS was announced...

    Thanks for you feedback :3
  • Synzer
    Guide Editor
    You're right about gold/silver/crystal. Any fan of Pokemon will tell you that. I disagree about X and Y though. I thought it was one of the best, probably my second favorite.

    The games have all be much easier since the first one, they reduced the levels of the Elite 4. I do agree though that they are easier because they don't have 6 Pokemon, WHY?! They are the Elite 4, you'd think they would have 6 Pokemon /rant.

    Anyway the story in Pokemon has always been pretty easy, but I love the competitive side of the game.

    Even if grinding is a trademark of Pokemon, doesn't meant its good. I'm glad they added super training so I don't have to kill 1000 Pidgies if I don't want to.

    Good article though. Everyone has their opinions and I'm not saying you're wrong.
  • poliwagg
    Featured Contributor
    yeah X/Y was good. But to me, they don't have the same value as the 3 I placed before. BUt I agree that the graphics were amazing and the gameplay was awesome.

    Supertraining was a great addition. My rant went more towards the EXP Share. I just didn't write it because people would be like YOU CAN TURN IT OFF I know you can turn it off, but the existence of it disturbed me. It just FELT easy. All of it. I went through Emerald again not too long ago and I struggled at some gyms and the Elite 4. X/Y was a breeze. I wish they had "modes" to make it more difficult...

    Thanks for you feedback :3
  • Kate Reynolds
    Senior Intern
    I'm 10000% with you on Gold/Silver/Crystal being the top Pokemon games. since you get to visit two "continents" there's just so much gameplay to experience, and the Pokemon that were introduced in Generation 2 still weren't...stale.
  • poliwagg
    Featured Contributor
    yesss. It was so cool to be able to go back to those in the remakes!

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