The 5 Greatest Main-Series Pokemon Games

Ranked for Your Pleasure

Having already covered what I believe to be the very best Pokémon spin-off games you can get in our Top 5 Pokémon Spinoff Games article, there's only one way to go from here: the main series. The core games of the Pokémon world have always been the most sought-after examples of entertainment, and not just within the Pokémon sphere either; Pokémon is one of the best-selling video-game franchises ever. A majority of these sales come from the core titles, each existing within a certain generation (between I and VI as of October 2014) that has its very own fictional region, characters, and Pokémon. Let's not waste time on background though: here are the best Pokémon games of the main series in no other order but rank and worth.

Doesn't this just bring back memories? I've gone and ranked what I believe to be the greatest 5 main-series Pokémon games to have ever existed, ever. Oh, and there's nothing you can do about it.

1. Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, Generation II

screenshot of pokemon gold silver crystal games

You'll notice I haven't gone straight in for the "Generation I is best" approach and here's why: it really isn't. Sure, I like to get all weepy and nostalgic like the next Pokémon enthusiast (read: social pariah), but I'm not for one second going to let my red/blue-tinted glasses of hindsight affect my judgement here; original isn't always best, and Generation II certainly proves this statement to be truer than Moltres is a fire Pokémon (and it is, trust me).

What people often forget is that before Generation II there was ne'er a dual-type Pokémon in sight, an omission that is glaringly obvious with hindsight but one that players of Generation I didn't miss because, well, it hadn't been thought of quite yet (Generation I's Pokémon Yellow aside, of course). Aside from the dual-typing, which allowed Pokémon like Charizard to be both a fire and a flying-type Pokémon, the introduction of the day/night process also meant that time-specific Pokémon were now a thing - something we take for granted in games like Black and White 2 and Pokémon X and Y. This generation also saw the whole trainer/Pokémon relationship expand after having been introduced yet again in Pokémon Yellow.

So to the Generation I purists I say this: nostalgia is great, but the facts trump warm memories hands-down, and the fact is that Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal had more Pokémon, more expansive features, and was altogether a better generation to be in.

2. Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, Generation I

screenshot of pokemon red blue yellow games

"Now we're talking", I hear you original-is-best types utter under your bitter breath. And indeed we are talking since Generation I was a fantastic period in the lives of many that for some marked their first ever encounter with Pokémon that would stay with them forever. Who could forget choosing between Bulbasoar, Charmander, and Squirtle as your starting Pokémon? Taking your first steps in your house in Pallet Town is a memory that most Pokémon fans hold dear, and let's not even get started on the original 151 Pokémon, you know, before your Pokédex began to struggle with what is now 600+ Pokémon.

Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow aren't by any means the most technically brilliant, but that's simply because of how games, and indeed time itself, works. Games are released. Games are played. People are impressed but also full of criticism about what could be done better. Sequels are made. Sequels are (usually) better because of this very process. But being the first set of games in what became a global gaming phenomenon isn't Red/Blue/Yellow's fault at all, and these games are still as fun today as they ever were, even if played in monochrome on the original Nintendo Gameboy.

3. Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald - Generation III

screenshot of ruby sapphire emerald games

This list is beginning to look like all the others on the internet, but that's often the way these things go. You can't change the fact some series of games are simply enjoyed more than others. Generation III saw the flowing in of such features as yet more Pokémon, vastly improved graphics, new Pokéball types, and the all-important Battle Frontier in Pokémon Emerald, and people couldn't be happier with the changes.

4. Black and White 2, Generation V

screenshot of black and white 2 game

It's always a close call with the more recent Pokémon games since there are so very many Pokémon and features to speak of, but Black and White 2 just about dove in front of X and Y for me. The introduction of a direct sequel was quite unprecedented, but there was just something about the storyline and the progression within it that made me like it more than its successor, which was considerably less challenging than its nominally monochromatic predecessor.

5. X and Y, Generation VI

screenshot of pokemon x y games

Even though X and Y clearly have more Pokemon, more features, a new region, and new characters, the only thing that made it slip down in my mind was the fact that you seemed to be able to get ahead in half the time than in previous games if you got the right Pokémon, which you did because you are essentially handed lots of them in the earlier stages of the game. This takes the grinding out of the equation, and though in other games this would be a good thing, here it is like taking away what makes Pokémon Pokémon. Still, X and Y is a fantastic Generation and is soon to be succeeded by Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Visit the official home of Pokémon