Let's Rank The Pokémon Games, Best To Worst

We did it with Halo, Grand Theft Auto, and Final Fantasy, and now we're back at it again to rank the Pokémon series.

The Pokémon world is an enormous one, one that spans over 20 core titles (mostly with slight variations) and countless other side stories (30 by my count), but for newcomers into the series, it seems like an overwhelming lot to comprehend. So let's say you're a new player to the series, or an old hand looking to restart on the road to the Pokémon League — allow me to rank the series so you can catch 'em all the best.

Before I start, I have to point out that this list isn't Kotaku's picks, no — they're mine and mine alone. One extra tidbit: this list does not mean that any one game in the series is worse than the other; if I could, I'd give each game a gold star. I mean I did play them all... all.

This post will only talk about the core series of the Pokémon games, spanning from the original Red and Blue to the current Black 2 and White 2. For the sake of time and arguments I've chosen to eschew myself headaches by omitting the many many spin offs and side stories in the Pokémon Universe.

This list is by no means definitive; in fact I look forward to hearing from you, our readers, about your own rankings of the Pokémon franchise. Maybe you can change my mind in the comments below!

1. Pokémon Generation II

Gold/Silver/Crystal

Nothing will take away just how special the first generation of Pokémon was, but Generation II was where Pokémon really started to open up. The formal introduction of dual-types (Charizard can now fly! (I know he could in Yellow, but he couldn't in Green/Red/Blue)), and the implementation of a day and night cycle created different ways to play. For the first time, the time of day mattered — certain Pokémon could only be caught at certain times, for example. This made gameplay more frustrating and more interesting. On top of having day and week cycles, Generation II expanded on the Friendship/Happiness system that was introduced in Yellow, making Pokémon grow via their "devotion" to their trainers.

But new elements aside, Generation II had (imo) the longest main game section with the addition of the original Gyms. Bringing back Brock and allowing the player to fight Red was just a dynamite concept of fan service, and giving Red a Pikachu was definitely a great shout out to the Anime/Manga fans. Plus the cell phone system allowed trainers to be battled again, resulting in more replay value.

On a personal note, 251 Pokémon was just the right amount!

Pokémon Crystal, being the extension of Gold and Silver, is perhaps the best Generation 2 game. Adding for the first time the choice of gender for the main character, an additional Suicune centric plot, and the battle tower, Crystal adds more replay value to an already packed instalment.

Don't worry if you can't find a Gameboy to play Generation II; they remade Gold and Silver into HeartGold and SoulSilver in Generation IV for the DS.

2) Pokémon Generation I

Red/Blue/Yellow

The games that created a worldwide phenomenon still hold up pretty well today. Capturing all 151 original Pokémon is still a challenge today. Even without the addition of running, and the weird implementation of "dual types", there is always something to love about starting out in Pallet Town, taking down Team Rocket and then beating the snot out of Blue (or Gary). The most gratifying part of playing Generation I is knowing that it directly connects to Generation II.

The hard part now is finding a Gameboy or a Gameboy Advance (Red/Green were remade in Generation III) to play these games.

Yellow is the definitive Pokémon game experience for any Post 90's generation child that grew up watching the Pokémon cartoon. This game was made to closely resemble the Pokémon TV series with the addition of Team Rocket. Most importantly, this game had a Pikachu that would follow the player around. This Pikachu, a mirror of Ash Ketchum's (Red's) Pikachu also said "Pika Pika", which was unlike the regular garbled sounds that supposedly made up Pokémon noises.

Yellow also included a fun little mini game that involved a surfing Pikachu.

3) Pokémon Generation III

Ruby/ Sapphire/ Emerald

Leaf Green/Fire Red

With the addition of running, better animations, contests, and double battles, Generation III deserves a higher place on this list, but the new focus on the IV and EV value systems, in my opinion, really made the games a little too serious — dropping them down the list to number three. Also, Pokémon contests weren't exactly my cuppa tea, but I can see the appeal they have.

The biggest and only issue I had with Generation III is the fact that the Pokémon designs seemed to get weaker — I mean just look at Torchic and its evolution Blaziken (also look at Feebas)! There were also some odd design choices, such as getting rid of the time cycle and focusing more on the weather element.

There really isn't a break out title in Generation III, but if I had to pick one, it would be Emerald. Like Yellow, Crystal, and Platinum, Emerald is an extension to Ruby and Sapphire.

4) Pokémon Generation IV

Diamond/Platinum/Pearl

HeartGold/SoulSilver

The first fully 3D Pokémon games were also the first ones in which Pokémon could be traded and battled with over the internet, without having to use a dinky link cable. So why isn't Generation IV ranked higher even though it contains the remakes of Gold and Silver? Because fundamentally, HeartGold and SoulSilver are remakes (even if I could have my Typhlosion follow me around).

Generation IV exists as a milestone and a technological stepping stone in the Pokémon universe, however as a standalone game it doesn't change the formula in place since Generation II, and it doesn't add much more than what was already added in Generation III. It does however get points for making Pokémon better looking and paving the way for the newer animations that may be found in the upcoming X and Y.

HeartGold or SoulSilver, you can't go wrong with either. The extra gym battles and the nostalgia make these remakes a bit more entertaining than the three main games of Gen IV.

5) Pokémon Generation V

Black/White

Black2/White 2

The first time that a Pokémon game has received a direct sequel, the Generation V games in my opinion didn't do much more than just increasing the (already quite large) number of Pokémon. There are now, in fact, 649 Pokémon (excluding the ones seen so far in X and Y). The only thing I liked about Generation V that wasn't found in the previous games was the fact that Technical Machines became very similar to HMs, in that they have infinite uses. This addition was, in my opinion, a double edged sword, making the game easier while taking away from the challenge. I still can't decide if having flamethrower as a TM is a good or a bad thing yet.

Black 2 and White 2 were my favourites during this generation cycle. The storyline was more accessible for players if they had previously played White and Black, but the games were able to hold their own as individual titles. The additions of the White Tree Hollow and the Black Tower provided hours and hours of extra Pokémon battling with an added "story" extension. These games were fun and engaging, but after playing so many Pokémon games, at the end of the day, Pokémon fatigue sets in. There are just too many to capture and trade in the fifth generation.

Picture: Dhencod/DeviantArt


Comments

    (1)Gen 3. (2)Gen 4. (3)Gen 2. (4)Gen 1. (5)Gen 5. Although I really enjoyed every entry in the series and cannot wait for Gen 6!!

    Last edited 31/01/13 10:03 am

    I'm not sure if remakes should be included on this list, purely because Heart Gold and Soul Silver beat out whole generations. :P From best to not-that-bad-but-I-don't-love-it

    1) HG/SS
    2) 2
    3) 5
    4) 1 (Yellow is amazing, though..)
    5) 3
    6) 4

    Last edited 31/01/13 10:06 am

      The remakes were good though.

      My list
      1) Red Version
      2) Red Version
      3) Red Version
      4) Red Version
      5) Red Version

    1) Gen 1

    ......

      Agreed. I've played others since and they're all missing one thing. Simplicity. Picking up Platinum was just a bit overwhelming for me, so many new things that they have added that don't really get any decent in-game descriptions. And when I read up on a wiki... I'm left wondering why something like that is even in the game. Gen 1 played more like an RPG, you had your main quest and you had some side-quests. The newer games seem to want to be everything to everyone.

        I can follow this argument for the newer titles but for Silver? Really?

        That game was basically as good a sequel as any I have ever played, and I feel like anyone who says 151 IZ DA ONLY POKEMANZ is kind of missing out. I mean, they are from the same era. Same system. Just... added awesome to everything.

        Can you point out something you actually didn't like which Silver added?

          I didn't play Silver. I jumped back in at Sapphire so I'm not sure which features were added where.

            I'd suggest Silver then, it really only added quality of life features without re-writing what made the original games so great.

        Really? Platinum was the game that hooked me.

    Generation 3 was the worst IMO, worst models for creatures, worst game story.

    My list
    1. Gen 1
    2. Gen 2
    3. Pokemon SNAP
    4. Pokemon Puzzle league
    5. Gen 5
    6. Gen 4

    No... We should consider games rather than Gens. I didn't find DPP that great but loved HGSS, counting both as Gen 4 is poopy.

    Earlier Gens are great but hardly hold up anymore. No real order for me except for HG/SS at the top.

      Platinum is the BEST! I'LL KILL YOOOU!!! :P

    This is like... ranking the CoD games. They're all basically the same lol.

    1) 2
    2) 3
    3) 4
    4) 1
    5) 5

    2 was my personal favourite but I actually think 3 was a much better game set with a revolution in storyline, and best Pokemon designs of all gens.

    5 had truly awful Pokemon designs and terrible habit of making move sets not correspond to the stats of pokemon. Not to mention the battle sequences were pixelated and annoying.

    I used to be a PokeMon master... Loved the games! I'd Rank:

    BEST: 1st GENERATION!

    WORST: None.

    Have not played since after the Silver/Gold/Crystal versions... loved the good ol days!

    5
    2
    1
    4
    3

    I've thoroughly enjoyed Gen V much more than the few before it.
    The TM thing I definitely appreciate, in the B2/W2 the addition of badges and letting you look through your pokedex by region to see what places you still have to find things in adds a whole heap more to do on top of the already long story (in B2/W2 my whole team were 70+ before I'd even been to every town).
    The movie mini game is far more interesting than any of the mini games have been, the story in B1/W1 was far more nuanced than previous instalments, all of it just worked for me.

    I never played any pokemon games. I feel the originals were aimed at a younger demographic to me. So the only games that I have played with pokemon in them are the Smash Bros games.

      I had similar feelings and then I actually played a game.

      I remember buying Leaf Green as a kid (I was probably around 10) and feeling embarrassed :P... What a stupid thought on my behalf!

      Although they look kiddish they're very in-depth JRPGs and just all round excellent games. Definitely worth trying out if you can :). I recommend HG/SS or Black/White since they focus on a small amount of Pokemon at the start and you're not suddenly introduced to hundreds of them.

      It reminds me of this.

      http://i775.photobucket.com/albums/yy35/nintendodsfreak/196b8f54735c3261825f9c9d06ea2b4c.jpg

        It's true.

        Even though I don't play the games myself, I actually know plenty of guys my age that do.

    IV, II, V, I then III.
    Three is worst by a long shot, so much wrong with that Gen.

    My Personal Order of Favourite Pokemon games are:
    1) Gen 2
    2) Gen 4
    3) Gen 1
    4) Gen 3
    5) Gen 5

    Gen 2 by far the best in every single way (exploring, Pokemon, replay value and breeding). Gen 4 was a very close second, I enjoyed Platinum more but D/P are still one of the best and it helped make Pokemon battling more competitive. Gen 1 and 3 were good but otherwise I felt their replay value was neglected and lastly Gen 5 for me was just a big old meh, the new battling systems felt like gimmicks and the Pokemon designs are probably the worst I've seen. Really looking forward to Gen 6 though but I'm hoping Gamefreak add something fresh to this new Generation.

    I think BW2 did a lot more than this article thinks. I'm still playing.

    So it seems that Gen 2 is widely approved of. Guess I should give it a go sometime.
    For me I've only played Red/Blue/Yellow, Pinball, Snap, Stadium (maybe 2), Ranger, Mystery Dungeon (Red/Blue).
    Didn't dislike any of them, and quite enjoyed Red/Blue, Snap and Pinball.
    Stadium was cool just for the 3d pokemon and playing on the tv. Ranger and Mystery Dungeon were both interesting but a departure from what I liked about Red/Blue.

    Gen 2
    Gen 1
    Gen 4
    Gen 5
    Gen 3

    Yeah, I said it. Gen 3 started with a rehash of Generation 1, then followed it up with what I like to call "Pokemon OMG serious editions" and turned the game from being about having fun, into a game for the "ZOMG HARDCOREZ!" with all the specialist training BS.

    1. Black 2/White 2
    2. Black/White
    3. HeartGold/SoulSilver
    4. FireRed/LeafGreen
    5. Gold/Silver/Crystal
    6. Red/Blue/Yellow
    7. Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald
    8. Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

      *Shakes fist* Eight?

        Disclaimer: Platinum is actually the only Pokemon game that I've never played :P

          You know, I think it actually is mine too :|

          Maybe FireRed too if you want to get all technical but that's basically LeafGreen

            They really fixed up DP when they did Pt. The pacing of the entire game is changed and so much more post game content. FOUR STARS.

          Dude, quite an improvement over DP. Strike it from your list!

    Gen 1 is the worst and best. Best because it created a excellent series of games. Worst because it was the most glitchy and most boring version when compared to all others.

    http://i.imgur.com/jSvGs.png

      pfft there not glitches, there gauranteed ways to win, "creative use of game mechnics", used to love using these "glitches" in battles with friends.

      hahahahha the special stat
      Goddamn Alakazam/Chansey

    I'd put Black/White 2 above Pearl/Diamond any day. Pearl and Diamond were the worst offenders in terms of not adding anything new to the series aside from a handful of Pokemon in my opinion - Black/White added story, character depth (greater than none at all anyway), an entire set of new pokemon, so the world felt entirely fresh, and really fun and new locations.

    My order would be: 1. Gen II 2. Gen III 3. Gen V 4. Gen I 5. Gen IV

    Gen I is special for starting it all... but it was absolutely not a better game because of it. The way stats and attacks worked had large flaws, the pokemon were poorly balanced, had terrible art, and the amount of glitches was insane. It pioneered the Pokemon era, but it is not better than the next games. Gen II introduced multiple types and fixed LOADS of the issues Gen I's attacks had, and Gen III introduced double battles, better graphics, and lots of new battle strategies by allowing better stat control. Gen IV didn't really offer anything new, other than new Pokemon, and because of that, I rank it last.

      Well put! I didn't rank the games other than HG/SS but now that I look at your list, it's pretty much what I'd have.

      I found Gen III graphicaly and geographically offensive. Platinum was a real fixer upper of the problems that D&P had.

      Where did Swarms originate?

        Swarms technically started in RSE.

          I checked Bulbapedia and it was Gen II, they were called something else though.

      Generation IV is extremely important for me because it was the first time moves of the same type were split into Physical and Special. For example, in generations 1-3, all Ghost type moves were considered Physical (which makes no sense lol), so your Gengar couldn't take advantage of its own Ghost type attacks (Most Gengars will instead use Thunderbolt and Ice Beam). Also Flareon had a high attack stat but all Fire moves were Special, so it was pathetic. With the split, now there are both Physical and Special Fire moves, and even Physical and Special Fighting moves (good for Alakazam to have Focus Blast to deal with bulky Dark type Pokemon)

    Interesting. I have Crystal - but only ever played Gen 1. Maybe I should check it out.

      I'd go for HG/SS since they're the superior versions of the Generation 2 games (in terms of mechanics and just other little improvements each instalment of the main games added), but since you've only ever played Gen 1, it might still hold up :)

    1) Gen 2
    2) Gen 1

    The rest were shit

    Your opinions are all objectively wrong.

    1. HG/SS
    2. B/W2
    3. B/W
    4. R/S/E
    5. Plat
    6. S/G
    7. FR/LG
    8. R/B

    Too shit to mention tier:
    Yellow.

    The only reason you'd think gen 1 was the best is absolute pure nostalgia.
    Other than establishing the formula, it was nothing more than a buggy mess. All gens have some of my favourite Pokemon.
    I didn't like Gen 2 much either, but I thought it improved Kanto, and the addition of Johto was pretty good. Hence why the remakes were my favourite. But the second gen Pokemon additions were some of the worst, I think.
    For the record, my first game was Blue, so before you fire off accusing me of being a misinformed ten year old, just know that I'm not as blinded by nostalgia as you are.

    Also talk shit about my Garbadour, get hit.

    Gen 3
    Gen 4
    Gen 2
    Gen 5
    Gen 1

    I never played gen 1 until well after gen 2 had started so it doesn't hold the same appeal to me. Gen 3 is the only game that held me long to be this close to completing the full pokedex. I think gen 4 gets a bad wrap, and the introduction of the physical/special split for each individual move was a very important change.

    Really? I thought Gen 5 was better than Gen 4. Yeah, 4 had it's fancy DS-centric features, but it also had arguably the weakest new batch of Pokemon. Black and White shook things up by giving us all new Pokemon (yay, no more bloody Zubgat and Tentacool every half step) and at least tried to be a bit more clever on the story front.

    I'd also say 1 and 3 were better than 2. 2 wasn't bad, I just don't think it's as good.

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