Pokémon Go is a colossus. Everywhere you look people are walking into walls or charging madly into traffic for that rare Jolteon. And mostly they’re just having for the first time in a fun, social experience as people drop lures, walk rescue dogs, and play a game that encourages meeting new people in the real world. Well, when the servers are up anyway.
But one thing I have increasingly noticed about this game is that for many of its more hardcore players, it’s the first Pokémon game they have ever played. While always a cultural phenomena, for many it is simply a TV show or a card game. But Pikachu and his friends (including Raichu who is the best Pokémon and I will fight you) are more than just a camp TV show and an insanely popular app; the games themselves are in the mostly masterpieces.
So, we here at MMOGames have come up with a short list of the Pokémon games that newcomers to our little corner of the gaming world can play to really delve into the hell that is catching them all. These are the games that created OUR obsession with virtual creatures, the games that spurred us to spend countless hours farming shines or trying to use strength on that damn SS Anne truck for Mew.
As a side note, there will be GLARING omissions to this list, and I have tried my best to pick games that are easily available currently on both the Nintendo Virtual Console and Ebay. Also, this is not just filled with the main series of games. Furthermore, this is not a traditional ‘best list’ and order isn’t important. Pokémon as a franchise is such a wildly sprawling mix of nostalgia, spanning such a long time frame that often to even attempt such a thing is in itself, a minefield of nostalgia that would be madness to even attempt to cross and one that this writer will not pursue (Soulsilver is the best, so there).
But if you think we’ve REALLY missed something, feel free to post it in the comments below!
Now, ON WITH THE LIST!
Pokémon Snap (N64, Wii and WiiU Virtual Console)
Perhaps the weirdest of all the golden age of Pokémon games, Pokémon Snap puts you in the shoes of photographer Todd who is tasked by professor Oak to take pictures of Pokémon for… well okay we think Poké-science stuff but Oak has always had a slightly creepy air to him. The game takes part over several on rail stages and allows you to throw bait, rocks and take pictures… and that’s about it. Full of hidden moments and Easter eggs, it is perhaps one of the more simple and bizarre games on this list, but on the whole its very short running time and boundless charm will somehow endear it to you. This might be one to play after you’ve delved into a few more Pokémon games, but it’s a mad little ball of fun when you get to it.
Pokémon Trading Card Game (Game Boy, Gameboy Color, 3DS)
The games and the show were mega hits, but around my parts both of these were eclipsed by the popularity of the card game. The amount of time and money funneled into collecting these little bits of card would surely cause the people currently bemoaning the players of Pokémon GO, for daring to get out and about and enjoy themselves, to weep themselves to sleep. But while wildly popular, for many it came as quite a shock that the cards that they so cherished actually happened to have a use as some kind of game outside of just trading.
But with the release of the Pokémon Trading card game for Gameboy, the players finally had a chance to play the game without having to risk taking that shiny Charizard out of its protective sleeve. While only really featuring the first gen of the card game and lacking much of the meta game and stratagem of the modern card game as it is today, the original is a simple, easy to learn CGG that will tug at your nostalgia sinews. Players looking to advance into the modern world of the TCG can do so with the game’s PC, Mac, iOS and Android App, which is available here.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
The latest of the modern games, until the up-and-coming Sun and Moon is launched later this year, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the Pokémon games brought into the modern age with great aplomb. A 3D remake of the Game Boy Advance games Ruby and Sapphire, they pip out the more original X and Y games, which are still very much worth a play. There were also improvements made to the online and multiplayer aspects, and these are the aspects that this game is best known for.
While in every way a core Pokémon game, the ability to battle, trade and connect with your friends anywhere is what gamers have been dreaming of. The ease and joy that players can just connect up and battle away is what shines through and until Go arrived on the scene, the closest any of us got to an MMO game for Pokémon. These games are easily available and at the time of this article, they still have a big community of players for both serious and random play.
Pokémon Soulsilver and Heartgold with Pokéwalker (Nintendo DS and 3DS)
In this writer’s opinion, Pokémon Soulsilver and Heartgold is the very pinnacle of the Pokémon franchise. A remake of the sequels to the original games, Soulsilver and Heartgold offer the best mechanics of the Pokémon games with their simple, yet endlessly deep, gameplay of rock, paper, scissors turn based battle with an added charm of the last great 2D sprite animations These games are also perhaps the biggest of all the Pokémon games, with not only the new Johto region but also the game’s original Kanto and all of its gym battles.
With the addition of a bundled along addon, the PokéWalker, the game also has a great synergy with Pokémon GO. Primarily a pedometer that allows you to store Pokémon within the Pokéball, and it lets you level them up by simply walking around your daily life. In itself an incredibly accurate pedometer, it will let you level your Pokémon while you… well okay level your Pokémon Go creatures. A word of warning, these are no longer in production and will likely cost you a decent amount for either a decent second hand or new copy of the game. While I have tried to exclusively keep this list to games currently in production or available digitally, these ones are so good I just had to include them on this list. Even if you can’t get a hold of the walker, the game on it’s own is more than worth your time.
Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow. (Game Boy, Game Boy Color, 3DS)
What else could be number one. The Granddaddy of them all, the game that started the craze. Pokémon Red and Blue (or Red and Green if you hail from eastern shores) is perhaps one of the most important games in history. Containing the original 151 Pokémon, the collecting, trading and battling, while very out of date compared to the others on this list, are still heads and shoulders above many of the other pretenders to Pokémon’s throne. It’s the simplest Pokémon game of them all, with none of the later breed/Shiney complications to confuse the very newcomers, and with Pokémon yellow it even follows the plot (to a point) of the anime. It even sticks you with a Pikachu that will bleat out his name and follow you about (however, it can’t evolve into Raichu thus rendering it useless).
For newcomers, start here. Start at the beginning of the craze, and fall in love with the mad world of pocket monsters and endless charm that we Pokémon mainstays always have. And you could be the very best, like no one ever waaas. TO CATCH THEM IS MY REAL TEST TO TRAIN THEM IS MY CAAAAUSE, I WILL TRAVEL ACROSS THE LAND, SEARCHING FAR AND WIDE, EACH POKEMON, TO UNDERSTAND THE POWER THAT’S INSIIIIIDE
POKEMON, GOTTA CATCH EM ALL, IT’S YOU AND ME, I KNOW IT’S OUR DESTI-(Editors note: Stop that)Related: Column, Pokemon, Pokemon GO, Top List