Game Night

Ranking the Main Series Pokemon Games: I’d Rank ‘Em All, But I Don’t Have All Day (Game Night!)

One week ago, Detective Pikachu was released in theaters. I’ve seen it, I have thoughts about it, and I can’t wait to share them. Unfortunately, movies are scheduled for Monday. You are intelligent enough to see the problem.

But I can’t get it out of my system. I need to talk about Pokemon! Not just because of the movie either; Sword and Shield are coming out later this year, and I’m absolutely dying to play them! My inner Pokemon fan is screaming at me!

So today, I’m going to try and get this out of my system (at least until Monday) by doing the only logical thing: making a list! And better yet: one that will undoubtedly garner much controversy! I’m going to tell you my thoughts on which Pokemon games are the best ones!

*Note: I’m going to be judging each Generation as a collective, rather than on a game-by-game basis. I also will not be including remakes, as they are the easy picks for the best ones. Unfortunately, this means no Firered/ Leafgreen, Heartgold/Soulsilver or Omega Ruby/ Alpha Sapphire. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to bits.
*I also won’t include the Let’s Go! games. Because I still haven’t played them, and I likely never will. They are a perfectly fine tie-in game with Pokemon Go, and that is all they are. I will simply wait for Sword and Shield.

With that in mind, let’s get started with what I feel is the weakest Gen of Pokemon, as well as what will likely be the most controversial pick: Gen 1.

Generation 1: Look How They Massacred My Boy

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If you recognize the Green version, then you get a gold star.

Oh Gen 1. Time has not treated you kindly.

The games that started it all. The only Generation that is universally revered, with almost no debate. How could I put this one at the bottom of my list? Clearly, I’m either high or stupid. Possibly both.

Well, here’s the thing: the only thing about these games that haven’t aged are the basic mechanics. Y’know; the ones that would be further fleshed out in the later games. Also the whole Mewtwo story, but that honestly deserves a whole post dedicated to it alone.

This game simply shows its age in every possible way. The sprites range from ‘meh’ to ‘ugh’. The animations are even worse, as many of them are attached to ear-splitting sound effects. Worse yet; many of the basic mechanics are simply painful to go back to.

Whoever decided there should be an inventory limit in Pokemon should be shot.

Gen 6: Deleted From My Memory

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I’ve played this game. I know I’ve played this game. But I genuinely can’t remember having done so! I played it, enjoyed it, and then poof! it was gone. It was so forgettable that I had to convince myself that I had played it!

Yes, this game is still a step up from Gen 1. The gameplay is very solid, the visuals are good, for it being the first 3D Pokemon game, are solid, and Kalos is a decent region. The new Pokemon are perfectly fine, with some great ones and some not so great ones. Unfortunately, even at its absolute best, the game is forgettable.

Despite their problems, the other Gens are memorable. This one is only higher than Gen 1 because of gameplay improvements. Gen 1 is still better in that regard. But gameplay is kind of important for a video game, so… there we go.

Generation 2: Bigger, Not Much Better

generation-2
Best box art. Fight me.

Gen 2’s legacy is close to that of Gen 1. Some people even revere it more than they did the first! And for good reason.

Many of the problems from Gen 1 have been repaired. The sprites are far better, and the animations are much nicer. The use of color did Pokemon wonders in many wonderful ways. Unfortunately, many of the issues, such as the inventory, are still a problem.

But let’s focus on the positives. It expands on Pokemon brilliantly. I love most of, if not all of, the Gen 2 Pokemon. Plus, going back to the setting of Gen 1 and having the final final boss being your former playable character is a stroke of pure genius! It’s a decision that still holds the test of time!

It’s just a shame that, in terms of gameplay, it is still far from my favorite. Fun? Yes. But still aged.

Gen 3: Fatigue Sets in Quick

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Believe me. If I were including the remakes, this would be much higher.

Gen 3 makes a lot of nice additions. Double battles, many cool new Pokemon, some of the best sprites and animations in all of Pokemon (thank you Game Boy Advance, my precious son). There is a lot to love here.

But these games are just kind of boring. While I do think there are some cool Pokemon, I don’t find the majority of them to be especially memorable or cool. The Hoenn region is easily my least favorite. It is forgettable, bland exploring it is simply not very fun.

Sorry Gen 3 fans. I simply don’t enjoy it as much as other Pokemon games. Though I do feel that it is still better than Gen 1 and Gen 2.

Gen 7: The Island Life Isn’t For Me

Sun and Moon. As well as Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Good in many ways. But not so good in many others.

These games made some of the most important changes in all of Pokemon. Most importantly: they finally did away with HMs! It only took them twenty years, but they finally got it!

I also really like the new Alolan forms of classic Pokemon, as well as many of the new Pokemon themselves! Many of them are forgettable, yes. But the ones that stick with you are truly fantastic! I mean… Toucannon! For fucks sake!

Unfortunately, these games lack in one major, crucial factor for a Pokemon game: replayability. The cutscenes are too long, too in-depth and worst of all: you can’t skip them. I don’t care about this edge-lord Jojo character, this little girl (I lied, I love her) and their crazy mother! Just let me play the damn game and murder shit with my adorable murder pets!

Alola is also far from the most memorable region of Pokemon. It’s far from the worst, yes. But it’s just so repetitive and generally boring. Each area of each island feels the same; pathways, cave, and pathway. Compare that to the prior Gens, where you would go from a grassy field to a forest to a mountain range to a cave.

Worse yet: the game runs really poorly. Even on the most powerful version of the 3DS, the game runs super poorly at times. The frame rate will drop into fucking hell. A lot.

Which especially hurts when you’re petting a large Pokemon.

Still, they are good games. The first playthrough is an absolute blast! It’s just a shame that they couldn’t stand up to replays.

Gen 4: Removing My Nostalgia Glasses

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Again: if I included remakes, this would be higher. In fact, it’d be the top of the fucking list! And if I were going off of nostalgia, then it would absolutely be on top! This was my first Pokemon generation, after all!

Everything here is almost perfect. I love the sprites, I love the region, I love the Pokemon! The starters are the best, fight me, and the Champion, Cynthia, is easily the best in all of Pokemon! But it suffers from one major issue: HMs. There are EIGHT Hidden Machines! That is enough to take up the whole move sets of two Pokemon! OUT OF A PARTY OF SIX!!

It’s a damn shame. I really wanted my nostalgia to be on the money. Unfortunately, I just can’t get over this. Playing them is still a blast. But I hate having to relegate two members of my party as HM Slaves.

I also hate having to use the term HM Slave.

Gen 5: Fight Me

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These are the best Pokemon games. I will fight you on that.

I love literally everything about these games. The Pokemon are great (yes, even the trash bag, ice cream cone and chandelier), the setting is incredibly memorable and fun, the sprites and animations are solid as hell, and most importantly: it’s a ton of fun to play! I’ve revisited each Pokemon game over and over again. But I still have consistent fun playing Gen 5!

Hell, even the story is great! Yes, the story in a Pokemon game is something I find worthy of praise! It brings up interesting philosophical questions regarding the moral ambiguity of Pokemon battling! Sure, it dismisses that question by the end. But the fact that they played with it at all is amazing! And with the antagonist, no less!

I love Team Rocket, don’t get me wrong. But I do love N and Team Plasma. If for no other reason than the knight aesthetic.

Grab whatever weapon you want. No matter what you find, I won’t be intimidated. I’ll stand up and defend Gen 5 to the day I day. It is my standard for all Pokemon games, including the upcoming Sword and Shield. They are, without question, my favorite Pokemon games.

Yes. That includes Black 2 and White 2. In fact, I might like those more than the first two games!

Conclusion

Mission complete. My Pokemon craving has been momentarily satiated. Now all I can do is hope that I don’t go to sleep with visions of Dittos in my head. Which, considering how late it is upon me writing this, will likely be a problem.

But better that than zombies, Lickers and Mr. X, as I’ve had the last few nights. Maybe I’m playing too much RE2.

Regardless of my gripes, Pokemon is still one of my favorite game franchises of all time. They are still a total blast, regardless of your age and their own flaws. It will live for years to come. Hell, it will probably outlive me!

Which is either a really uplifting thought, or a depressing one.

3 thoughts on “Ranking the Main Series Pokemon Games: I’d Rank ‘Em All, But I Don’t Have All Day (Game Night!)”

  1. For me Gen 2 is highest, followed by Gen 3. Gen 3 had everything Gen 1 had, but twice as much thanks to 2 regions in one with 16 badges. It introduced the most mechanics in any generation. Similarly, Gen 3 was a massive leap in the art as well as new features and mechanics. Weather, secret bases, double battles, and contests were all mind blowing for kid pokemon fans. Gen 6 gave us pokemon amie, which they can never take away now or people will riot.

    Gen 7 was super interesting for the plot. It has a very dark and mature plot for a pokemon game, with a focus on family issues that speak to the millennial generation, many of whom come from broken families. Gen 5 was the first to have such a fleshed out story, but 7 took it farther IMO. To me the pokemon series is more of a spectrum of accumulating features that all building toward neat new things for everyone to try.

    This is a great write up! Reading it made me want Sword and Shield like yesterday!

    Liked by 1 person

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