Best Pokémon games 2023

The best Pokémon games are a hotly debated topic, and it's confusing with so many different mainline titles and spin-offs to choose from, so we're here to help.

Best Pokémon games - promotional art from Pokémon Sword and Shield showing a trainer with the three starter Pokémon

Pokémon is arguably one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, and there are heaps of possible contenders for the best Pokémon games. Not only does it span an incredible amount of games, both mainline and spinoffs, but there’s an anime, numerous movies, and, of course, the trading card game. In fact, we’d wager that Pokémon has made an impact on your life in one way or another. If you enjoy video games, then chances are you’ve ventured into at least one Pokémon region, and if you haven’t, well, we can’t be friends.

However, when there are so many titles in one franchise, it always begs the question, which is best? Well, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to look at what we consider to be the best Pokémon games. We also believe some of these titles to be the best in existence across all games media. They certainly stand tall with Nintendo’s other huge releases, at the very least.

So, if you like good games, read on, and discover greatness. If you enjoy Pokémon as much as we do, perhaps our Pokémon Legends: Arceus new Pokémon and Pokémon Legends: Arceus Unown guides. Or, you could check out our Pokémon Unite tier list if you fancy giving the MOBA a whirl.

Now, let’s get into our list of the best Pokémon games.

Best Pokémon games - Pokémon Legend Arceus screenshot showing the female protagonist walking through a field

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Pokémon Legends: Arceus made such an impact at release that we’ve no choice but to include it on this list. The game not only redefines the games in this franchise, but it takes them in a fresh new direction, one that involves a luscious open world, spanning across multiple locations and landscapes. Furthermore, the way in which you approach catching Pokémon, and battles, is revitalised, offering a new experience, one we hope to see return in future Pokémon titles.

On top of that, the game’s crafting system is a nice touch, one we’d happily see again, and the story itself about Sinnoh and the Hisui region is fantastic. It’s amazing to experience an area before it becomes what we know today. It’s also a joy to see the Hisuian versions of certain Pokémon, such as Arcanine – a good boi, the best boi, the only boi.

Best Pokémon games - Pokémon HeartGold SoulSilver landscape view, with the two main legendaries in the foreground

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

These are the best Pokémon games, and we’ll take no further questions at this time. Okay, in all seriousness, these are fantastic entries in the franchise, and are full to the brim with amazing titles that take you on memorable journeys. However, HeartGold and SoulSilver not only allow you to embark on an adventure across Johto (arguably the best region), they also allow you to return to where it all began after conquering the Pokémon League. Yes, you get to return to Kanto and dominate that region too. These games really do allow you to prove that you’re the very best.

Oh, and how can we forget to mention all the fantastic Pokémon that make their debut as part of generation two, including the starters Cyndaquil, Totodile, and Chick Chickadee (Chikorita), and it’s fair to say that all of their evolutions are equally as fantastic. Then, of course, there are the legendaries, including Lugia, Ho-oh, Entei, Suicune, and Raikou.

Best Pokémon games - promotional art from Pokémon Sword and Shield showing trainers having a picnic with a large group of Pokémon

Pokémon Sword and Shield

Admittedly, these games wouldn’t make it onto some other best Pokémon games lists, but it’s a fun generation that provides you with a world that proves to be a joy to explore. It also has some fun DLC chapters and competitive online play to keep you coming back for more.

Best Pokémon games - three Pokémon from Pokémon Colosseum

Pokémon Colosseum

There was no way that we weren’t going to mention this gem from the GameCube days. Perhaps what makes this a popular choice in the history of Pokémon games is that Colosseum not only offers something different to the mainline entries, but it’s a home console game, as opposed to those on the Gameboy and Gameboy Advance.

Best Pokémon games - a screenshot of a character walking around a town in Pokémon Crystal

Pokémon Crystal

This is perhaps the best of the Gameboy Colour Pokémon games, and once again, it takes you to the Johto region. It takes everything that makes Gold and Silver so incredible, slaps some better graphics on them, and brings them together in one perfect outing. Crystal is a joy to play from start to finish, and regardless of whether or not you complete Gold or Silver, this game is enticing, pulling you back in for yet another great adventure with Cyndaquil – because that little cutie is the correct generation two starter.

Best Pokémon games - the cover art from Pokémon Platinum

Pokémon Platinum

Pokémon Platinum took the Diamond and Pearl games, kept their strengths and improved upon their weaknesses to create the perfect way to experience generation four. Frankly, we’re still of this opinion even after the release of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. To discover why, you can check out our Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review. You see, Platinum essentially combines the two games together, eliminating the exclusive rubbish that hinders the process of players that don’t have a buddy to trade with.

Furthermore, its pokédex is more extensive than that of Diamond and Pearl, and it includes ‘mon not seen in those titles. We also can’t deny how much we love the titular legendary, Giratina.

Best Pokémon games - a screenshot of gameplay from Pokémon Yellow

Pokémon Yellow

We have to mention one of the main games that kick-started this whole franchise, but why Yellow, and not Red and Blue? Because we get to have Pikachu as a starter, and it follows us around, that’s why. It’s beyond adorable, and we’ll defend that hill. Moreover, there’s something so nostalgic about returning to this game, and given the formula here is still in use today, it’s safe to say that it’s a stellar entry, and everyone should experience it at least once.

Best Pokémon games - a screenshot of Pokémon Emerald gameplay

Pokémon Emerald

In a similar manner to Platinum, Pokémon Emerald offers a definitive way to experience generation three. In fact, we’re still not over it not getting a remaster for the 3DS alongside Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Of course, this means that to play Emerald, you need a Gameboy Advance, but we assure you it’s more than worth it. The starting Pokémon are a cute bunch, but Torchic is the clear winner as its final stage is Blaziken. Don’t agree with us? That’s fine, but our Blaziken is going to kick your butt.

Also, if we’re speaking on a narrative level, Emerald introduces new elements not seen in Sapphire and Ruby, and that alone means this is the generation three game to play.

Best Pokémon games - the two legendaries from Pokémon Black and White 2

Pokémon Black and White 2

Do you know what we like the most about Black and White 2? The fact that they serve as direct sequels to Black and White, making them the first games in the Pokémon franchise to continue the story from one set of titles to the next, and we’re here for it. More than that, they stick to the formula that’s been in place for years. Why fix what’s not broken, right? However, minor tweaks to these titles help them to stand above the rest. Who knows, perhaps these games will make the Switch leap one day.

There you have it, the definitive list of the best Pokémon games, because we can’t possibly be wrong about this. Now, if you’re after another list that’s absolutely right, check out our picks for the best Mario games – these choices didn’t cause any discourse for team PT at all.