All Pokémon games, ranked from best to worst

From the very best to the worst, here are all the Pokémon games ranked

It’s hard to pinpoint the reason why the Pokémon franchise has remained a worldwide sensation for more than two decades. Maybe it truly is the desire to catch ’em all. Maybe it’s that the basic formula, of becoming the very best trainer, has remained largely the same since its debut on Game Boy.

A sense of comfort and familiarity, while implementing enough new features to evolve, keeps bringing gamers back in droves. No mainline Pokémon game has been anything less than great, and all of them have been commercial successes. Pokémon is one of the rare franchises that both kids and adults obsess over.

Pokémon Sword and Shield, the first core Pokémon experiences for a home console, arrive on Nintendo Switch later this year. With that in mind, we decided to rank the mainline Pokémon generations from best to worst — worst being relative as even the last entry on this list is great. The mainline games are actually only a fraction of video games in the Pokémon universe, so we also included our picks for the best Pokémon spinoff games after the main event.

1. Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal (Gen 2)

best pokemon games 2 gold silver

Starters: Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile

Pokémon Gold and Silver added 100 Pokémon to the original 151, including arguably the best trio of starters Pokémon has seen. Beyond adding to the Pokédex, generation two made great strides in multiple areas over the original. For starters, you now had to think about the time of day when trying to catch new friends, as the day/night cycle smartly added a layer of depth to your time spent in the long grass.

Adding to the systems seen in Pokémon Yellow, generation two leaned into dual-types, allowing you to make a more varied and strategically diverse team to bring into battle. The Johto region happens to be our favorite to explore as well and has the best legendary birds (Lugia and Ho-Oh).

We’d be remiss not to mention HeartGold and SoulSilver, the enhanced DS remakes of Gold and Silver. HeartGold and SoulSilver added the Kanto region to the map, connecting Johto with the land mass that started the phenomenon. With 16 gym leaders to best, HeartGold and SoulSilver remain the deepest, lengthiest Pokémon games ever created. If we could only play one Pokémon game for the rest of our lives, it’d be HeartGold or SoulSilver.

2. Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow (Gen 1)

best pokemon games 2 red blue

Starters (Blue/Red): Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur

Starter (Yellow): Pikachu

Partly due to nostalgia, partly due to how these games still feel great today, generation one’s trio of excellent Pokémon games take our second spot. To this day, generation one has the best collection of Pokémon. The original 151 will never be forgotten and neither will Ash’s first adventure. From the opening moments in Pallet Town to choosing your first starter to racking up gym badges and defeating the Elite Four, Pokémon Red and Blue just feels right.

Sure, some of the deeper mechanics the series is known for now aren’t present in the original games, but there’s something about their streamlined identity that still brings a smile to our faces. Pokémon Yellow brought the series to full color and having Pikachu by our side made us truly feel like we were Ash, on a journey to catch ’em all. Generation one will always hold a special place in our hearts. It’s magical.

3. Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (Gen 3)

best pokemon games 2 ruby sapphire

Starters: Treecko, Torchic, Mudkip

Generation three is when Pokémon games really started to lean into natures, EV, and IV systems, placing an emphasis on not only the species but the specific member of that species in your party. The power of the Game Boy Advance made each model of the now 386 Pokémon more vibrant.

While we think the 135 new Pokémon, as a group, didn’t compare to the 100 added in gen two, Ruby and Sapphire had one of the neater regions. The Hoenn island region felt larger than previous regions and was generally a more interesting area to explore. A pair of stellar gen three remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, are available on Nintendo 3DS.

4. Pokémon Ultra Sun/Moon (Gen 7)

best pokemon games 2 sun and moon

Starters: Rowlet, Litten, Popplio

The most recent mainline games, Sun and Moon and the enhanced Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, switched up the standard Pokémon progression a bit. Set across the islands of Alola, Sun and Moon introduced players to Team Skull and the Aether Foundation, a group dedicated to protecting Pokémon. Rather than progressing through various towns’ gyms, you had to complete island trials, which typically included a small dungeon and a battle with a powerful Pokémon. Afterwards, you’d be able to battle the island’s Kahuna.

The 80 new Pokémon were some of the most interesting to be added since the early games, and the Alolan versions of original Pokémon felt inspired. Z-Moves, Ultra Beasts, and an expanded take on Mega Evolutions added welcome mechanics into the fold. There was even a Pokémon Snap style mini-game.

5. Pokémon X/Y (Gen 6)

best pokemon games 2 x and y

Starters: Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie

Pokémon X and Y marked the series’ first truly 3D experience. The camera perspective switched from top-down to a closer, behind the body angle, giving the world of Pokémon a sense of scope it hadn’t seen before. France inspired Kalos region had flair and style and featured one of the largest mega-cities we’d seen thus far.

Though X and Y only introduced 72 new Pokémon, it did mark the beginning of Mega Evolutions. The storyline somewhat disappoints, though. The higher fidelity presentation provided by the Nintendo 3DS hardware made Pokémon models truly pop during battle sequences, allowing for crisper fighting animations.

6. Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (Gen 4)

best pokemon games 2 diamond pearl

Starters: Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup

Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum served an important role in the evolution of Pokémon. They looked markedly better than generation three thanks to the Nintendo DS, but they mainly showed where the franchise would eventually go. Generation four brought a very important feature, though: Online trading and battling. This made filling out the Pokédex, which then neared 500 with the help of the new 107 pocket monsters, more of a global effort.

You didn’t have to know people with copies of the game to trade with. Instead, you could just hop online and make a trade for what you needed. Online battling let you really see who was the best trainer for the first time in series history. Generation four is great because of its technological innovations, but it’s one of the more forgettable Pokémon time periods overall.

7. Pokémon White/Black and White/Black 2 (Gen 5)

best pokemon games 2 white black

Starters: Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott

Generation five was an oddity. It was the first in the series to get a direct sequel, with Black 2 and White 2 releasing a year after the originals. The sequels did retread familiar territory, but told a new story and featured some new areas as well as Pokémon. Generation five also holds the record for the most Pokémon, with 156 new Pokémon to catch.

Even more so than Diamond and Pearl, though, generation five, especially the sequels, felt like a stop gap for the series’ next evolution. While we regard generation five as the “worst,” we still think it’s pretty darn good. It didn’t introduce much new at all, but the true sequel concept was intriguing nonetheless.

Emerging Tech

How Super Mario, Magic: The Gathering, and PowerPoint are low-key supercomputers

What if the creators of Super Mario World, PowerPoint, and even Magic: The Gathering had accidentally created tools hiding a general-purpose computer in plain sight? Turns out they have.
Cars

Crisp and connected, the Volkswagen Golf will get a digital reboot in 2020

Volkswagen is putting the final touches on the eighth-generation Golf. The hatchback will still be recognizable as a member of the Golf family, but it will receive a crisper design inside and out.
Gaming

Animal Crossing could make an appearance during the Nintendo Direct at E3 2019

Once again, Nintendo will air a Nintendo Direct during E3 2019 rather than take the stage. The showcase will feature games launching in 2019, so expect The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Luigi's Mansion 3, and much more.
Gaming

Minecraft Earth hands-on preview: The next big AR craze Is coming

Minecraft Earth is a new mobile augmented reality game from Microsoft that has Pokémon Go dead in its sites. The cute monster collect-them-all started the genre, but Minecraft Earth hopes to redefine it.
Gaming

Riot Games and Tencent are developing League of Legends for mobile devices

Sources have revealed a collaboration between Tencent and Riot Games that will see a mobile version of League of Legends developed. Tencent owns Riot Games and also developed the mobile MOBA Honour of Kings in China.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Deals

Dell Memorial Day sale demolishes prices on XPS laptops, 4K TVs, and monitors

The 2019 Memorial Day sales have already begun, and Dell has hit the ground running: The Dell Memorial Day Sale is destroying prices on laptops, TVs, and monitors, with discounts that can save you thousands. Read on to see the best deals.
Deals

Dell drops big savings on Alienware monitors, headsets, and gaming keyboards

Although known for its beefy PCs, Alienware also makes some great gaming accessories. A handful of them are on sale right now, too, so if you're upgrading to an ultrawide monitor or you just need a new mouse and keyboard, check these out.
Gaming

Amazon boosts productivity by gamifying warehouse workers’ tedium

Amazon is letting its warehouse staff play video games while they work. The games have been specially designed to inject some fun into the daily grind and, of course, to encourage them to work more quickly.
Gaming

Everything we know about the PlayStation 5, including PlayStation Now plans

PlayStation 5 rumors have circulated for over a year, but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Gaming

Project xCloud vs. GeForce Now: Which will be PC gamers' favorite choice?

Game streaming services are going to be all the rage over the next few years. Two of the biggest are Nvidia GeForce Now and Project xCloud. Here is what you need to know about the services and how they operate.
Gaming

Take the quickest route to level 70 and learn how to level grind in FFXIV

Leveling in Final Fantasy XIV seems to get easier as the level cap goes higher. With around 25 classes to level up from scratch, we outline the best and worst ways to level up each one fast.
Gaming

Here are all the game streaming services you should know about

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game-streaming services.
Gaming

Amazon slashes the price for Corsair’s HS70 wireless gaming headset

Amazon and Corsair totally blasted the price of Corsair's HS70 wireless gaming headset. With the HS70 price down to $60, you can save $40 when you pick up one of our favorite headsets with Wi-Fi wireless and 7.1 surround sound.
1 of 2