Pokémon Switch games – gotta play ‘em all

From Pokémon Legends: Arceus through to Pokémon UNITE, there's a vast selection of Pokémon games on Nintendo Switch.

Pokémon Switch games - a scene from the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet trailer shows four trainers standing outside with their Pokémon.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus may be the latest of the Pokémon Switch games, but Switch owners have been treated to quite a few Pokémon games since the console’s launch. If you want to catch up after enjoying Pokémon Legends: Arceus, or indeed, before you try out Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, there’s no time like the present.

What’s been exciting about Pokémon Switch games is that there’s been a great deal of variety. There are remakes that bring new mechanics to classic games, two very different fighting games, returns to iconic spin-offs of the past, and explorations into new genres and game styles.

It’s fair to say that these games make up some of the best Switch RPGs, but even the non-RPG games here have been very well made and deserve a spot in your library. If you’re new to the series, the games on the Switch actually span most of the series history, making it rather a good console to own if you’re a new fan who wants to catch up.

Anyway, these are all of the Pokémon games on Nintendo Switch, starting with the most recent:

Pokémon Switch games - a scene from the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet trailer shows four trainers standing outside with their Pokémon.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet (2022)

Though this one has yet to be released, we know that Pokémon Scarlet & Violet are coming to Nintendo Switch on November 18 of this year. Obviously there’s a lot that we don’t know about this game yet, but we know that it has been described as the first truly open-world Pokémon game, and on top of that, it’s also the first game in the main series to let you and your friends explore the overworld together.

It looks like it’s going to be a fantastic game, and fans are already growing excited. Understandably so, if you ask us. No doubt, there are still a plethora of untold secrets and delights waiting to be discovered when this game releases. It’s definitely one to pre-order.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon Puzzle League. Image shows a competitive game of Puzzle League in progress.

Pokémon Puzzle League (2022)

This is the third game in Nintendo’s Puzzle League series (also known as Panel de Pon) and, as we’re sure the title indicates, it gives the formula a new Pokémon-themed coat of paint. Originally, it was released on the Nintendo 64 in 2000, but it received a rerelease through the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack service in 2022.

If you’re a fan of the Pokémon anime, you may be pleased to know that this game draws very heavily from it. It even starts with a cutscene (that looks just like an episode of the anime), which explains why Ash and Pikachu are getting involved in the Puzzle League tournament, including appearances by the original English voice actors. Having said that, the Pokémon features are purely aesthetic, so your enjoyment of the game will depend on what you think of Puzzle League.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon Snap. Image shows Pikachu and Diglet in a cave, the Diglet is in a whole and Pikachu's name appears on-screen.

Pokémon Snap (2022)

Gotta catch ‘em all… on camera. Following the release of New Pokémon Snap on Switch in 2021, fans were given the chance to revisit the 1999 original via Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack in 2022. Though a short game, it still holds up today, and it’s a good one to revisit. It was the first game that let players see 3D Pokémon frolicking in the wild, because before this they’d only been seen in 3D in battle in Pokémon Stadium (or Pikachu in Super Smash Bros.).

In this game, you play as Todd Snap, a young photographer (who also appeared in the anime) who works under Professor Oak in order to capture photos of Pokémon living on a secluded island, riding a vehicle named the Zero-One through beaches, volcanos, caves, and more, as he seeks out the rarest creatures. The game uses on-rails gameplay, and there’s something very satisfying about finding a way to open up a new path or make something new happen.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon Legends Arceus. Image shows a trainer standing before the sprawling wilderness of ancient Sinnoh

Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022)

Returning to the Sinnoh region that many fans will have been introduced to via Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Pokémon Legends: Arceus reinvents the Pokémon wheel, as it were. For the first time, players are given a huge open world to explore, with Pokémon that can be caught without initiating a battle and battles that start seamlessly within the overworld.

While the latest game on the Switch is a real delight, there are still plenty of other fantastic Pokémon Switch games.

Pokémon Switch games - Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl. Promotional image for the game shows trainers and Pokémon in the game's underground.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl (2021)

Ever since Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released on the 3DS in 2014, fans hoped that the original DS classics, Diamond and Pearl, would one day receive the same treatment as well. If you’re a Switch owner who’s looking for a more traditional Pokémon experience, then Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl may be right up your alley.

Set in the mysterious Sinnoh region, one of the biggest strengths of these games is that they feature a large amount of side quests and endgame content. Once you’ve defeated the Elite Four, there remains a long list of things for you to do. It’s easy to sink a lot of hours into this game, so even if you played the originals, the remakes are well worth a look.

Pokémon Switch games: A promotional render for Pokémon UNITE, featuring trainers and a number of Pokémon, including Wigglytuff and Pikachu, walking towards a stadium.

Pokémon UNITE (2021)

Ever wanted to play a Pokémon MOBA? Well, good news, because that’s exactly what Pokémon UNITE is. Don’t worry if you’ve never played a MOBA game before, because Pokémon UNITE has very much been designed to accommodate those who are unfamiliar with the genre.

This is another freemium game, so if you’re curious, there’s no reason not to give it a go. Here, you work in a team alongside four other players, and your goal is to defeat wild Pokémon that appear within a stadium, while a competing team works to do the same. There are 30 playable Pokémon to choose from and each can be equipped with three held items, which modify their strengths and abilities. Have a look at our Pokémon UNITE tier list to find out more about its roster.

Pokémon Switch games: New Pokémon Snap. Image shows a Pichu and Grookey about to be photographed.

New Pokémon Snap (2021)

1999’s Pokémon Snap was a game for which many fans had a huge soft spot, but by 2020, it didn’t look likely that it was going to get any kind of sequel. Then to fans’ delight, out of nowhere, New Pokémon Snap was announced.

New Pokémon Snap has a slightly different focus from other Pokémon games. Instead of trying to “catch ‘em all”, or pit each of your roster against irritating NPCs who pop up and demand you thrash their low-level Caterpie, this time, you’re trying to take their photographs. You ride inside a vehicle called the NEO-ONE (nice spin on the original’s Zero-One) which takes you through various Pokémon habitats. NEO-ONE drives itself and it’s up to you to capture photographs and do what you can to entice the Pokémon out of the overgrowth and into the best possible shots. It’s an addictive formula, and it’s nice to see it revisited and enhanced on the Nintendo Switch.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon Café Mix. Image shows a Victini preparing food for Mewtwo.

Pokémon Café Mix (2020)

Ever wanted to open up a special Pokémon Café? Well, that’s exactly what this game is all about. You complete puzzle game challenges by matching up the icons of Pokémon’s faces, then you’re rewarded with resources which will allow you to expand your café, and offer a broader variety of food and drinks for your patrons.

With so many things to prepare and so many Pokémon to draw in as customers, it can easily be counted as one of the most addictive games in the Pokémon series. Rather than catching them, you’re just winning them over with your quality service, but that doesn’t make the experience any less rewarding.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. Image shows a Pikachu and an Eevee in a field.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX (2020)

Taking place in a world in which there are no humans, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has been one of the most popular Pokémon side-series. By 2020, it had been five years since the last Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game and 15 years since the series first instalment.

This remake gave new fans the chance to experience a Game Boy Advance game that they might not even have been around to play at the time of the original release. This isn’t a simple remaster either, but a full remake. Not only does it include gameplay mechanics that were introduced in later instalments in the series, but it also adds a whole bunch of new stuff as well.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon Sword & Shield. In an image a trainer fist bumps a Scorbunny in Pokémon Sword & Shield.

Pokémon Sword & Shield (2019)

This was the first main entry in the Pokémon series to be released on a Nintendo home console, making it a significant milestone in the history of the series. It takes place in a new region called Galar, which is based on the UK, and introduces Dynamaxing to Pokémon battles, allowing them to grow to enormous sizes under certain conditions.

While it maintained the traditional turn-based battles that much of the series uses, it also added something called the Wild Area. This is a large portion of the map, where, for the first time, players are completely free to go wherever they want and adjust the camera as they explore this expansive wilderness. If you buy the game’s DLC packs, this concept is taken even further, with a whole island that can be explored in the same way as the Wild Area. A taste of what was to come in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, perhaps…

Pokémon Switch games: image shows an Eevee, Pikachu and Charizard in Pokémon Quest, all of them presented in Pokéxel style.

Pokémon Quest (2018)

A freemium game that was released on Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android, Pokémon Quest stands out from other titles in the series due to its use of a drastically different artstyle. Here, every Pokémon looks like it would be more at home in Minecraft, with blocky avatars that still capture the cute Pokémon style we know and love.

Pokémon Quest is a game that’s all about arranging the right team of Pokémon to go on quests and defeat opponents. The combat itself is very simple, with a greater focus being placed on tweaking the Pokémon in order to have them meet the right specifications to win a battle. As with most free-to-play games, it involves a lot of grinding, but there’s no denying that Pokémon Quest can be fun and (and addictive).

Pokémon Switch games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Image shows an Incineroar alongside a group of Pichu and Pikachu.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)

While not strictly a Pokémon game per se, fans of the series will definitely want to give this game a try. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a celebration of (nearly) all things Nintendo and Pokémon is a big chunk of that. Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Mewtwo, Pichu, Lucario, Greninja and Incineroar are all among the playable Smash fighters, as well as a Pokémon Trainer (Red or Leaf) who can switch between Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard.

There are also lots of popular Pokémon world locales that appear as playable stages, with a huge range of other Pokémon appearing as allies if you release them from a Poké Ball, and even more of them appearing as unlockable Spirits. On top of that, the soundtrack includes a long list of brand new and remixed Pokémon tunes.

Pokémon Switch games: Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu & Let's Go, Eevee. Image shows a trainer with her Partner Eevee.

 

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu & Let’s Go, Eevee (2018)

The first generation of Pokémon games will always be considered the most special to certain fans and it’s no surprise that Game Freak have chosen to revisit them so many times since. Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee are essentially remakes of Pokémon Yellow, but they add a number of new spins to the old formula.

Around this time, many new fans had appeared after downloading Pokémon GO, so many of the Pokémon catching mechanics from that game were incorporated into this one. In fact, the two games even connected to each other, allowing you to unlock a rare legendary Pokémon: Meltan. These are just two of many new features that you’ll find in this return trip to Kanto.

Best Pokémon games: Pokkén Tournament DX. Image shows a Pikachu and Lucario about to fight .

Pokkén Tournament DX (2017)

Originally, Pokkén was released for Wii U, but as with most of that console’s exclusive games, it later received a Switch port so it could reach a broader audience. Pokkén is the answer to the question “What if you could be Pokémon in Tekken?” and it was even developed by Bandai Namco, the masterminds behind Tekken.

This game provides a very different way for you to take control of your favourite Pokémon characters. Fans will be very used to Pokémon fighting in turn-based RPG battles, but the fighting game mechanics here are more involved than what we’ve seen before. Even the art style has a more realistic look than most of the series.

If you already had the game on Wii U, it’s worth getting again if you want to see some of the new characters it added (including Blastoise). For what it’s worth, we included it on our list of the best Switch fighting games.

We hope that this is a useful point of reference for any fans who might want to catch up on all the Pokémon games in the Switch library. Check out our guide on the best Switch games for recommendations on other games to try.