🔖 10 min read

Despite the passage of time, the Pokemon series has maintained its popularity and relevance, inspiring nostalgia among those who played the first GameBoy games. This gives it a profound air of nostalgia that appeals to viewers of all ages, especially with its anime that has withstood the test of time. No one can forget the carefree days of playing Pokemon at their schoolmates’ houses or outside uni, physically linking up their devices to achieve a Gengar or Machamp!

Its accessibility is one of the main reasons Pokemon is as popular as it is, as it may be understood by both kids and their parents, making it widely available. The basic mechanics can be picked up quickly, with its battle mechanic of type chart being one that just makes sense in real life, but there’s a tonne of content for those who want to go further. There’s something for everybody, whether it be hardcore and more in-depth games such as Pokemon Showdown, to cakewalks such as Pokemon Sword and Shield. 

In this list, we will be ranking the Top 10 Pokemon Games being played right now!

1.) Pokemon Unite

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The Pokemon franchise has added many new elements, gaming systems, and Pokemon to keep fans energised. As a result of this consistent evolution, the series has maintained its appeal among new and long-time fans; the release of Pokemon Unite was met with as much excitement as it was complaints. As much as it is a fresh splash of colour thrown at the series, those critical to topics such as pay-to-win mechanics have been incredibly disappointed with Pokemon joining the dark side.

It was the franchise’s first time dipping its feet into the world of MOBA (space rules by games such as League of Legends, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and DoTA) and the dark world of microtransactions. Pay-to-win mechanics were always going to upset everyone, but the lovable Pokemon is laughing their way to the banks, with fans of the franchise accepting it despite the criticism still being thrown at it.

Despite all this, Pokemon Unite excelled for numerous reasons. As a competitive game, it has a ranking system that lets players move on to more challenging opponents as they improve their standing. This fresh take on the classic Pokemon format is exciting to play and revitalises the genre. Not only this, the developers continually release new playable characters, regions, and gameplay tweaks, all of which contribute to Pokemon Unite’s enduring appeal.

2.) Pokemon Go

Surprisingly, many people all across the globe are still playing Pokemon Go despite its popularity fluctuating since its 2016 release. It’s simple to see why it’s stuck around: anybody who spends time commuting or taking leisurely strolls outside may quickly think they’re the next Pokémon master.

Millions of gamers all around the globe have been out and about in their communities and parks in the months since Pokemon Go’s debut, searching for their favourite pocket monsters and competing in gym battles. Unfortunately, as the initial excitement subsided, many players stopped engaging with the game.

The recent rise in Pokemon Go users may also be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic since the game encourages players to go outdoors and investigate their environment while providing a level of social distancing. While its popularity may have peaked in 2016,  players who want to go out and find Pokemon in the wild will find that this game, thanks to regular updates and new features as well as the franchise’s continued appeal, is still a lot of fun.

3.) Pokemon Showdown

The online game Pokemon Showdown is a favourite among die-hard players since it allows them to create teams and face off against one another in simulated Pokémon fights. Players in this specialised game can test out numerous tactics and the series’ hundreds of moves in battle because of the game’s emphasis on squad customisation and strategy creation.

While it has an excellent appeal, Pokemon Showdown is not only loved among the competitive Pokémon gaming community, it has a dedicated fanbase passionate about it.  The game features a live chat system where users may converse, trade tactics, and challenge one another to fight. You can’t expect the average player to like this, as I f you’re accustomed to hammering “A” and repeating the same few movements in the main game, you’re in for a rude awakening when you enter the competitive scene.

4.) Pokemon Legends: Arceus

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Since its debut on January 28, 2022, Pokemon Legends: Arceus has been met with universal acclaim. For many longtime series followers, the game’s appeal lies in its innovative take on the series’ traditional unwillingness to experiment with new types of gameplay. In the history of the acclaimed video game franchise, this is the first instalment to introduce such a significant departure from the norm.

Its clever plot, which centres on the construction of the first Pokedex, and its open-world gameplay, which gives players a new opportunity to explore the Sinnoh area, have both received high praise. The game’s visuals and art style have also received high marks from critics, who have commended the game’s stunning and immersive universe. Gamefreak has been criticised for years for releasing the same old train your team, face gym leaders and become the Pokemon master formula. What a crazy joy it is that after all these years, we’ve finally been treated to an experience where you feel like you’re in a Pokemon anime, literally catching the tiny critters you see in the wild!

5.) Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

The newest games in the main series, Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet return to the original concept with a few tweaks. Instead of the open-world catch techniques introduced in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the new game returns to the tried-and-true methods of fighting and capturing. Now, there is a little twist: the player may choose how to go through the game, similar to Zelda games.

Game Freak has historically not listened to what its followers have been pleading for; the same old complaints are being raised. It was launched with several faults that have since been reported by players, including frame rate problems and unexpected shutdowns. It also has a straightforward plot plus a lifeless open world, and in the year 2023, no voice acting, which makes many interactions feel empty and the game even more complete.

While it hasn’t undergone any radical improvements, it is still one of the most current releases in the main series of games. The truth is, considering how many of its dedicated followers still purchase the game, the developers don’t need to make such drastic modifications.

6.) Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the 2006 Nintendo DS games of the same name (minus the adjectives). They update and improve upon the original games with a few quality-of-life changes. Nevertheless, these alterations were primarily superficial, with the game maintaining a similar graphic style and other features to the original.

Players and reviewers alike have praised the game for its top standard. It’s been lauded for its faithfulness to the original game and nostalgic soundtrack. Many have complained that more has stayed the same since the first game was released, although this may be overlooked since they set out to provide a throwback experience for fans of the original.

The game strictly adheres to the same structure Pokémon used almost from the beginning. An unwitting trainer acquires a Pokémon and embarks on an epic journey to battle with other trainers, complete gym challenges, and secure gym badges to take on a mysterious and dangerous enemy – the works. Simply defined, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond is the series’ “ultimate form” since it merely does the bare minimum of what is required and does it very well.

7.) Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

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It’s safe to say that when Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were launched in 2006, many people thought they were game-changers. With the addition of innovative hardware features like twin screens and touch controls, the DS flexed its flashy hardware, using this as its first Pokemon game. As a result, developers were able to include novel game mechanics and features, such as using the touch screen to access menus, draw symbols to initiate movements, and otherwise engage with the game environment.

It’s the first “classic” on our list for a good reason: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl both included features that were not shown in previous Pokemon games, such as the ability to trade and interact with strangers, as well as the introduction of a day and night cycle that changed the look and behaviour, and influenced the evolutions of specific Pokemon. These two significantly improved over previous games in the series, both technically and in terms of the features they added to the gameplay. It paved the way for subsequent games in the Pokemon franchise to expand upon its already groundbreaking innovations.

8.) Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green

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The second classic on our list is pair of 2004 releases, Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green. The original Pokemon games were launched on the Game Boy in 1996, and this version is a remake of that game. If you’re a fan of the series but have yet to play Fire Red and Leaf Green, give it a go to see how far the franchise has come and what type of route it ultimately took.

The game’s visuals and gameplay mechanics had been upgraded, allowing players to take control of a female avatar. It expands upon the main game from the 90s by adding Pokemon that weren’t there before and new regions to explore. With its 2D graphics and basic combat animations, it still stands up well as a classic and is fun to play even now.

Nevertheless, the game was developed for the Game Boy Advance, an older platform; its visuals and gameplay may appear dated in light of today’s technological improvements. Whether or not Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green are worth buying depends on your tastes and whether or not you want a throwback experience. These two are Pokemon games that veteran fans should play again if this is the first time they have done so.

9.) Pokemon TCG

Remember showing off your Pokemon cards to your mates in university growing up? Yeah, even those annoying type-cards you thought were unnecessary. Who needs them when one has a deck of cards featuring all your favourite Pokemon?

The Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) is still played by many people today, and it has a large and devoted fan following. Although having been around since the mid-’90s and through several revisions and upgrades, the Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) still manages to draw in new players and maintain the interest of its longtime fan base.

The Pokemon TCG has had a revival in popularity in recent years, with an uptick in attention and desire for both real cards and digital versions of the game. The game’s popularity has been sustained and even increased by the constant stream of international competitions and the production of new sets, some of which are rare. Many more individuals can play the game now that digital versions, like the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, are readily available.

As a result, they are employed for competitive reasons and serve as collectables for casual fans because of their adorable illustrations and unique traits.

10.) Pokemon Sword and Shield

The reception to Pokemon Sword and Shield has been mixed, especially given that this was the first mainline game released on the shiny new Nintendo Switch.  Others believed the game needed to be more assertive in various areas and did not live up to their expectations, even though they loved it and applauded the new elements, such as its marvellous open-world and gigantamax capabilities.

Most of the complaints have to do with the game’s short main plot, the small number of Pokémon you could capture, and the debate over the absence of several famous Pokemon. There were also complaints about its lacklustre presentation, excessive handholding for the player, and almost no difficulty curve. Overall, the game was underwhelming for a mainline entry of an IP with its popularity and budget.

One incredibly frustrating theme in this list is these games produce generally well-received magic when they try something new. One nice change is the different approaches they are taking with region designs. The return of the classic gym leaders and Pokemon League is a welcome sight.  To make each area seem like it belongs to the Pokemon ecosystem and to ensure that earlier games are remembered, older Pokemon were given new coats of paint to fit in with the series’ evolving designs. It’s great that the new regional varieties show similarities to how animals behave in the wild as they adjust to new habitats.

Despite these complaints, whether or not Pokemon Sword and Shield are excellent depends on the individual since each player’s experience, and preference will be unique.

Do you agree with our rankings? Which of these is your favourite Pokemon game? Whether you’re a casual fan of the series or a hardcore player critical of how the direction the series has taken, one thing will never change: Pokemon will always be a big part of our hearts.

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About Lee O'Neill

A lover of old Japan from Heian to Edo, Lee is quite the geek when it comes to the customs and traditions of Japan and its people.