One of the most anticipated games to ever be released on the Switch, Pokémon Sword & Shield, is finally on the horizon, and will no doubt make quite the splash when it hits worldwide on November 15th, 2019.
But with the previous mainline release of this gaming and anime phenom now so distant, it would certainly serve gamers well to brush up on their monster-hunting skills and get back into the Pokémon game the right way. Between the Switch library and the vast gaming expanses beyond, there are a number of games in the series, in addition to Pokémon-esque experiences that are sufficient stopgaps for future Sword & Shield Pokémon masters looking to get hyped and satiate their Poké-cravings.
With that said, let's go on a journey as we explore 10 titles to revisit while you wait the long week (or perhaps far longer for you) to get your hands on Sword & shield.
10 Monster Hunter Stories
One of the most underrated entries in the epic monster-slaying adventure called Monster Hunter is actually a Pokémon-like spinoff, which was quietly released for the 3DS in late 2017. This game seems to be a glimpse into a Pokémon-style game with more nuances and modern sensibilities, similar to what we're likely to find in the robust Sword & Shield.
Its combat alone features an accessible, yet complex "rock-paper-scissors" dynamic, along with a myriad of skills, upgrades, and thrilling quick time events. The game's vibrant and vast landscapes yield a plethora of colorful "Monsties" and hatchable eggs that can be fought, captured, and raised. There's even a solid PvP system to add to the game's fun and replayability.
9 Digimon World DS
It's tough to find a franchise closer in both character and substance to Pokémon than Digimon, a sort of "digital monster" equivalent to Nintendo/Game Freak's "pocket monsters." Just like Pokémon, there have been a number of enjoyable and surprisingly fleshed-out games centered around this creative monster-laden odyssey. Yet, one of the stand-out efforts has to be Digimon World DS from BEC and Bandai Namco Games.
The game features a Pokémon Gold/Silver level of monsters, as it contains 230 unique beasts that can be caught, raised, and trained throughout your 24-hour journey. The game's unique "Digi-Farms" allows you to be resourceful in your training by powering up your monsters when you're away. The complexity in the combat and upgrade system is also both impressive and satisfying.
8 Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! & Let's Go, Eevee!
What better way to get your feet wet with the first epic mainline Pokémon title in years than by practicing your skills with this far tamer, "entry-level" Pokémon experience?
Yes, Let's Go Pikachu!/Eevee! does feel something like a watered-down version of the more nuanced and dynamic mainline RPGs; but this is by no means a bad thing, especially with the satisfying and intuitive controls. The game's more basic and linear style will serve as a nice bridge in which to brush up on your Pokémon game. Meanwhile, the neat little motion-controlled Pokéball accessory - which allows you to move, navigate menus, and catch monsters, adds a fun new spin on the gameplay.
7 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
One of the most fun and well-crafted Pokémon imitators, ever since the original Game Boy release almost 2 decades ago, has to be Dragon Quest Monsters; once known as Dragon Warrior Monsters. The Joker sequels on the DS took the original appealing formula and added even more depth and content, while decorating the visuals with a charming cell-shaded aesthetic similar to Sword & Shield.
This second iteration on the DS is brimming with more fun and content than ever, as up to 3 monsters at once can be pitted against an array of colorful baddies. These can be caught, trained, and even "synthesized" together to manifest new, stranger, and even gigantic varieties. There is even a system of leaderboards and online battles that allows for up to 8 players to connect and fight against one another.
6 Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Golden Sun burst onto the scene with its dazzling aesthetics and soundtrack (at least for the GBA), memorable narrative, lavish settings, and fun combat, complete with cool spells and abilities. One of the most notable traits, however, was the introduction of a Pokémon-like series of creatures that could enhance your fights; known as Djinn.
This awesome third entry on the DS amps up just about everything even further - not just with its slickened visuals and the technical bells and whistles of the DS, but with its lineup of Djinn featured, which now numbers 72. Dark Dawn takes the majestic worldbuilding fans adored about the GBA hits and fleshes it out to perfection. At the same time, DD offers more of that satisfying turn-based combat and its large assortment of Djinn, which adds a fun dynamic to the battles.
5 Pokémon Red & Blue
When it comes to this long-running, majestic RPG franchise, it's tough to beat the original classic on the Game Boy. Even if a few aspects of this decades-old romp haven't aged particularly well, its deep, addictive gameplay and charming array of 151 original Pokémon shines through more than ever. There's a reason fans still return to the lands of Kanto and strive for Indigo League supremacy even today - the quality and appeal of Red & Blue is timeless, with its charming blend of simplicity and depth.
And besides, powering through this black-and-white grid-locked journey will only make you appreciate the epic, glitzy traits of Sword/Shield in all its crisp, vibrant glory even more.
4 Octopath Traveler
It stands to reason that Octopath Traveler is a sufficient way to hype yourself up for likely one of Switch's most fun and enduring RPGs, as it seems to share many of Sword/Shield's traits. While the game avoids any "monster catching" concepts, the look and feel of this majestic journey definitely contains that Game Freak vibe, and is far from a traditional JRPG in many ways.
Between the semi-open-world environments, the retro-tinged visuals, and the variety of party combinations and unique spells, Octopath Traveler definitely shines as a great alternative for Pokémon fans. You may even find yourself stepping away from Pokémon hunting for a bit as you yearn to explore the lavish regions of Orsterra and learn more about the colorful protagonists like Cyrus the scholar and the scorned dancer Primrose.
3 Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Similar to the likes of Golden Sun, Xenoblade 2 doesn't really run with any sort of monster-catching/training mechanic. Yet, it does capture much of the same spirit in its own way, through its diverse and intricate system of "Blades." These are basically customizable weapon-laced powers that can affect the course of Xenoblade 2's many action-packed battles that make up its gameplay. You've even got the implementation of elemental advantages similar to Pokémon.
The game ditches more binary turn-based combat in favor of a super satisfying and deep blend of action and tactical battles.
The experience feels partly like a deep, interactive anime fused with an open-world RPG epic. Taking the role as a humble "Driver" with the power to wield this array of mystical Blades, you set out to traverse Alrest, a fantastical land rife with ominous creatures, unique settlements, and rival factions; all revolving around the mystical World Tree.
2 Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes Of An Elusive Age
As long as we're touching on a Dragon Quest spinoff title, we may as well point you towards the latest - and arguably one of the best - entries in this iconic JRPG franchise by Square Enix. While you won't be able to catch the monsters you find, this vibrant, detailed role-playing game injects much of that same Pokémon vibe which emphasizes adventure and coaxes exploration in its open settings.
The game sticks to the warm familiarity of turn-based combat, but makes it more interesting with its combat in a 3D space, its customizable tactics, and the huge array of majestic monsters that color the scene. You can even play the recently-released Switch version in a delightfully nostalgic 16-bit art style, giving you a taste of both old and new.
1 Pokémon Ultra Sun & Moon
What better way to hype yourself up for the next Pokémon game than to pick up right where the mainline series left off and revisit the last effort on the 3DS? After all, Ultra Sun & Moon is the last time we'll likely see this classic series confined to the more restrictive hardware of a handheld-only device.
Not that this adventure lacks depth, substance, or visual flair - quite the opposite! These Ultra renditions, in fact, take the already robust RPG epics of Sun & Moon and add more content, extra Pokémon, and even another dimension to explore! This colorful, delightful 30-plus-hour journey is currently the most epic way to experience Pokémon - at least for another week!