Top 5 Pokemon Spinoff Games

You Make Me Feel Like Spin Has Spun

For a true, die-hard Pokémon fan to try to arrange any Pokémon game in rank order is quite the task. This is because of many factors that include, by are by no means limited to, the sheer quantity of quality titles that have been released, the fan's love for all things Pokémon and therefore all of the Pokémon games that exist, and also the number of spin-offs that also occupy the Pokémon realm. It's been a long time since Generation I, and in this time there have been a further five generations, sixteen main-series games, and around twice as many side-games to boot. The task of attempting to order these by merit is a difficult one, but the following list of our pick of the best Pokémon spin-off games makes the task just that little bit easier.

screenshot of pokemon plane

Spin-offs have a bad reputation for never being anywhere near as good as the main-series games. Though I tend to agree on the whole, there are a few that deserve your attention, and pressingly so as well.To indicate just how pressing, here's a picture of a Pokémon plane, just because I can.

Pokemon Stadium (N64, 2000)

screenshot of pokemon stadium

Well, if it isn't the best spin-off Pokémon game that ever was. That's right, I'll boldly go where many people have also gone before, which is to state that Pokémon Stadium is hands-down the greatest Pokémon spin-off game of any console. It's the most fun you can possible have in the Pokémon universe without entering into the main-series games, and that's because it basically deconstructed the usual RPG format, did away with the role-playing aspect and distilled it down to pure battling action. Oh, and it was all 3D and pretty and what not as well.

Seriously though, Pokémon Stadium was actually the first instance at the time where all 151 Pokémon of the classic first (and in the opinion of many, the best) generation of Pokémon could be viewed in full colour (according to fake Nintendo historians made up by me in this very sentence, GameBoys used to be monochrome or something) and in what passed for 3D in days of gaming yore. If you don't believe me that the initial generation was the best, you should go and have a look at the Pokemon Wiki Generation I page to see them in all their original glory when Mew was the coolest thing that ever existed in the world ever and the comically idiotic Team Rocket was the biggest of anyone's problems.

So while many people these days argue over which of the 600 or so Pokémon they like, just remember that there were days when Pokémon fans had to protect against a team of evil banditards who in turn thought that they were protecting the world from devastation, and all with only a mere 151 Pokémon to do so. To sum up: Generation I was great, Pokémon Stadium made Generation I even greater, and seeing those once exclusively monochrome and pixelated creatures in 3D was the best thing since the not-quite-so three dimensions of Duke Nukem 3D.

Pokémon Trading Card Game (GBC, 2000)

screenshot of pokemon trading card game gbc

Though the idea of playing a virtual simulation of a real-life, table-top trading-card game may seem bizarre to many, that description doesn't really do it justice. Let's forget the fact that the real-life Pokémon Trading Card Game took over the lives of many a child back in the day (myself included) for a second and focus on the fact that the developer of the GameBoy Colour iteration of this game, the now-defunkt Hudson Soft, actually furnished the game with a full-on story mode that mimicked the RPG nature of the main series.

So don't scoff at the fact that this is a simulation of what is in turn another simulation, but rather remind yourself of the fact that you (or at least millions of others) probably spent about as much time playing this as you did say, playing the main-series games, or doing something less important, like breathing.

Pokemon Snap (Nintendo Gamecube, 1999)

screenshot of pokemon snap

Taking photos of Pokémon instead of actually capturing them? That's absurd, right? Well, no, not when you consider the fact that this game - the first spin-off to actually hit the UK - was actually hugely successful.

The game is great because it integrates Pokémon into what would be considrered the natural habitat of wild animals that actually exist, allowing us to see Pokémon running side-by side with other Pokémon in their relatively undisturbed natural habitat. It's an on-the-rails first-person shooter, though instead of a gun you have a camera and instead of bullets you have good, old-fashioned film. Though it pales in comparison with even flash-based games like Pokémon Tower Defense 2 these days, at the time it was quite the natural wonder of the Pokémon world.

Pokemon Ranger (Nintendo DS, 2007/08)

screenshot of pokemon ranger

Pokémon Ranger was all about the unique capturing mechanics, which involved essentially lassoing the Pokémon with the stylus of your DS repeatedly until you wore it down and eventually were able to wrangle said Pokémon.

Though this wasn't the most enjoyable title for me, I have to acknowledge what the game was trying to do, which was to further develop the role of the Pokémon Ranger, a character you always see in the main Pokémon game whose role we never really got to have a glimpse of until Pokémon Ranger was released.

Pokemon Rumble Blast/Super Pokemon Rumble (Nintendo 3DS, 2011)

screenshot of pokemon rumble-blast

Though I wouldn't say the inclusion of Pokémon Rumble Blast (Super Pokémon Rumble in Europe) was controversial per se, I would say that it isn't often seen in any lists such as this. I enjoyed the game as it let you play through a story as Pokémon themselves. You build up your team by encountering other Pokémon, battling them, making them dizzy and then toppling them. You get the chance to capture most of the 600 or so Pokémon available, and the levels are quite addictive when you get into them. Trust me.

Visit the official home of Pokémon