Ranking the Pokémon Series
As a lifelong fan of the Pokémon franchise and with the next main series games just around the corner, I decided to rank each game. I created my own system that was based on the following criteria: in-game region, art style, character development, Pokémon introduced, post game, difficulty, length, and evil team. The results were pretty close to what I expected given my personal biases towards some members of the series. Each category could have up to four stars, after ranking each category I totaled them to get the game’s rank. Here’s how I’m ranking the main series Pokémon titles from worst to best!
Pokémon X + Pokémon Y — Score: 12/24
Pokémon X and Y were the first games in the main series to have 3D graphics. The hype surrounding them was very real during the lead up to their launch, but Game Freak failed to meet our sky high expectations. X and Y were simply too short, too easy to play, and included only a few new Pokémon. It’s also quite clear that these games were not meant to be the only Kalos region set games in the series. With various areas closed off and many plot holes, it’s clear that Game Freak was going to make either a Pokémon Z version or sequels. Although the reception to X and Y and the fervent desire for Hoenn remakes is likely what caused them to abandon these plans.
Pokémon Red, Blue, Green, & Yellow — Score: 15/24
The original games in the series are household names. They’re still a blast to play but compared to the rest of the franchise, they’re just too simply by today’s standards.
Pokémon Fire Red + Pokémon Leaf Green — Score: 17/24
The remakes of the original games in the series are infinitely better. They fix just about everything wrong with the originals but they still leave much to be desired. While the Sevii islands made for a nice post game, the main region of Kanto didn’t change much. Additionally, you could only access the first 150 pokémon in the pokédex until after defeating the Elite Four and completing a good chunk of the pokédex.
Pokémon Black + Pokémon White — Score: 17/24
Black and White were really soft reboots of the franchise. They introduced 151 new Pokémon in an all new region based on the United States. Black and White’s new mons were awfully weird but appropriate given the setting. Designs from generation five are lauded as some of the worst but these games felt truly new at the time and are still a blast to play today.
Pokémon Ruby + Pokémon Sapphire — Score: 18/24
The first games of generation three were never supposed to happen. Game Freak originally intended for Gold and Silver to be the last games in the series. Ruby and Sapphire had a high bar to meet. While the art style leaves much to be desired, the story was clever and the addition of two evil teams made for a fun adventure. Not to mention the incredible legendary mons added to the roster with this generation.
Pokémon Emerald — Score: 19/24
Emerald is simply put, a better version of Ruby and Sapphire. It includes new areas, both evil teams, and a better story for the iconic legendary Pokémon Rayquaza. It was my favorite game to play when I was little and it still holds up today as the best Pokémon title on the GameBoy Advance.
Pokémon Diamond + Pokémon Pearl — Score: 20/24
I remember being so excited for diamond and pearl in the mid 2000s. The first main series games on the DS had to be good and luckily this duo met our expectations. While they are quite slow when it comes to story progression, the addition of serious myths and the most unbelievably powerful legendary Pokémon up to this point made these adventures more than memorable.
Pokémon Omega Ruby + Pokémon Alpha Sapphire — Score: 20/24
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were indeed worthy remakes of the original story from Ruby and Sapphire. These remakes built on timeless story with new lore and new forms of existing pokémon. Many of the issues in X and Y were corrected with ORAS, but the post game was pretty sparse. Game Freak, why the hell didn’t you include the Battle Frontier.
Pokémon Ultra Sun + Pokémon Ultra Moon — Score: 21/24
I didn’t particularly enjoy playing Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. They felt like Sun and Moon packaged in a slightly different box. While some of the new mons that were introduced with these two games are quite cool, the story could have been so much further developed that the only thing I came away with after playing was wanting to know what the hell happened after the story ended. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon did one important thing for the series though, they opened to the door to multiple dimensions for the first time. Who knows where that will take us in the future?
Pokémon Sun + Pokémon Moon — Score: 22/24
Sun and Moon earned a higher score than their ultra counterparts because of their originality. These games felt truly new when they were first released. The gorgeous art style and huge new Alola region made these games feel innovative. They were a big step for the series. Perhaps the most important thing introduced with Sun and Moon was the concept of Alolan forms, new designs for generation one fan favorites.
Pokémon Platinum — Score: 23/24
Platinum fixed virtually everything that people disliked about Diamond and Pearl. They improved the Sinnoh region with updated areas and sped up the plot. Team Galactic got a boost with new faces and a much cooler storyline. Platinum also introduced a new dimension for the first time in the series with the distortion world.
Pokémon Black 2 + Pokémon White 2 — Score: 23/24
Black 2 and White 2 built upon the already fascinating Unova region and fixed the lack of diversity in available wild creatures. It reintroduced some of our favorite old characters in the world tournament and had a powerful storyline.
Pokémon Gold + Pokémon Silver — Score: 23/24
Gold and Silver were supposed to be the final games in the Pokémon series and it shows. These games were sequels to the original Red and Blue, included two regions, 100 amazing new Pokémon designs, a revamped Team Rocket, the myth filled Johto region, and the best legendary Pokémon in the entire series.
Pokémon Crystal — Score: 24/24
Crystal is perhaps the best overall GameBoy title spanning across the original, color, and advance. It included a female protagonist for the first time ever in a Pokémon game, built upon an already incredible story, and tweaked Gold and Silver to perfection.
Pokémon Heart Gold + Pokémon Soul Silver — Score: 28/24
Heart Gold and Soul Silver masterfully recapture the magic from the original Johto games with the most colorful region design ever in the series. Johto looks absolutely incredible with the Diamond and Pearl engine. Both Johto and Kanto appear in the games in their entirety. They include new areas, a wide variety of Pokémon, new in-game gadgets, the best user interface in any Pokémon game, cross compatibility with the GBA titles, and the best feature of all…Pokémon FOLLOW YOU IN THE OVER WORLD. Heart Gold and Soul Silver are the definitive Pokémon titles and it’s wonderful that gamers can continue to enjoy them on the 3DS and 2DS.