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Best Pokemon games

What are the best Pokemon games of all time?

Picking out the best Pokemon games of all time is a pie in the sky. Our favorite Pokemon journeys have always been the ones that were the most personally important to us. Pokemon as a game series has evolved over time, with mainline games improving or just changing drastically and countless spinoff titles sporting the Pokemon name.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet stand out as the best main series Pokemon games available on Nintendo's primary console: the Switch. Players explore a new region, collecting Pokemon and battling with friends and foes, as usual.

What to know before you buy a Pokemon game

Do you want a main title or spinoff adventure?

Main Pokemon titles let you become a trainer and collect Pokemon for battling. However, not all Pokemon games are part of the main series of games. Instead, there are a number of successful and fun spinoff series for avid Pokemon fans.

Pokemon Go, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and New Pokemon Snap are a few spinoff titles currently available. Some games, such as Pokemon Legends: Arceus and the Pokemon Let's Go series are touted as main series games but are nonstandard to the point where some fans consider them spinoffs. Either way, the Pokemon series has and will continue to have a lot to offer beyond the usual formula.

Do you care more about single-player or multi-player Pokemon games?

Some of the best single-player Pokemon experiences of all time were from the DS era in Pokemon Platinum, Pokemon Black and White, and Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 versions, which all received high praise upon release. However, old Pokemon titles available on Gameboy still trigger nostalgic feelings in hardcore Pokemon players. Aside from the very first generation of games, Pokemon FireRed, Pokemon LeafGreen and Pokemon Emerald probably provide the best nostalgia trips combined with modern gameplay and quality-of-life features. 

If you care about experiencing Pokemon multiplayer and battling other trainers, you will need a newer title. Whether you opt for joining the 3DS competitive scene in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon or jump right into the latest main series titles on the Nintendo Switch, it will be important to consider additional costs. To use online services on the Switch, for example, you need to subscribe to Nintendo's online service. Suppose you want to transfer Pokemon from previous generations of games to join you in battle in the most recent titles. In that case, you will need a variety of consoles and software to deliver an old Pokemon friend to a new game safely. 

Which console do you have?

For many years now, there have been Pokemon games of some kind available on each of Nintendo's consoles. Before choosing a title, be sure that you know which titles are available on the Nintendo console you own. 

How much you can expect to spend on a Pokemon game

New Pokemon titles on the Switch are going to cost around $60. The most recent Pokemon titles on the 3DS cost about $40-$50. Older Pokemon games no longer in production can be purchased used for a wide range of prices or, in some cases, emulated on a modern console for about $10.

Pokemon games FAQ

Do I need the latest Pokemon game to play?

A. No, you do not need to buy the latest Pokemon title unless you want access to specific multiplayer functions. There are older Pokemon games that are masterpieces of gaming and worth a playthrough even though they are not among the latest releases. Still, if you like a challenge, perhaps a Nuzlocke playthrough of an old Pokemon game would be fun. 

Should I wait for the next generation of Pokemon games to come out?

A. That depends on why you are looking for a Pokemon game. If you want the latest features, then you might want to wait for the next generation of games, but there are plenty of great games currently available. 

What's the best Pokemon game to buy?

Top Pokemon Game

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet for Nintendo Switch

What you need to know: The newest additions to the main Pokemon series are the best Pokemon games currently available on the Nintendo Switch.

What you'll love: With a more open-world gameplay than ever before, you have the freedom to explore the new Paldea region in whatever order you choose. The games introduce new mechanics, such as the ability for Pokemon to Terastallize to gain extra abilities. You can play in groups of up to four players.

What you should consider: In multiplayer mode,  each player requires their own console and Scarlet or Violet game. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Pokemon Game for the money

Pokemon Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch

What you need to know: These games might be part of the previous generation, but they're still worth playing. 

What you'll love: The main story takes about 26 hours total to play through while completing everything that Sword and Shield have to offer would take over 100 hours of gameplay. The Galar region introduced 81 brand new species of Pokemon and 13 new Galarian forms of old Pokemon. There is a multitude of things for trainers to do beyond the main story of the game, some of the highlights being battling with Dynamaxed Pokemon and battling other players online.

What you should consider: For long-time Pokemon fans, the omission of the national Pokédex from Sword and Shield was a huge disappointment. Even after two DLC expansions to this title, the Galar region is still missing 232 beloved Pokemon from the total 893.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX for the Nintendo Switch

What you need to know: For fans of the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon from the mid-2000s or total newcomers to the Mystery Dungeon spinoff series of Pokemon games, this is an excellent alternative to main series Pokemon titles.

What you'll love: The story of the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team titles is presented with a vastly improved and charming art style. If you ever wanted to play a Pokemon game where you can actually become a Pokemon instead of just collecting them, this is definitely the game for you. There is a demo of the game available for download, so before you buy, just go try it out and let the game speak for itself.

What you should consider: Some players find that the new camp system is a bit of a grind, so old fans of the mystery dungeon games should do some research about the minor gameplay changes before picking a copy up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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