Pokemon is one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, as the series has sold over 250 million copies since being introduced in 1996. But Pokemon didn’t just become a sales success thanks to main series entries like Pokemon Sun and Moon, and there are plenty of releases in the series that didn’t end up making such an impact.
So without further ado, here are 10 Pokemon games that many people will have never heard of.
Hey You, Pikachu!
After everyone fell in love with Pikachu’s bond with Ash in the anime series, it made sense for the Pokemon to star in its very own virtual pet game. Released in 1998 in Japan for the Nintendo 64, Hey You, Pikachu! was that game, and sees Pikachu come and live with the player.
Together they can try out different activities, and players have 365 virtual days to discover, play, and shop together, among other things, before Pikachu must be released to the wild.
Building on Hey You, Pikachu!‘s foundations was Pokemon Channel, a 2003 Nintendo GameCube release 2003 that allows players to watch a series of Pokemon-related television shows in-game such as a shopping show hosted by Squirtle and Psyduck-hosted news shows.
Players could also go out into the wider world, taking part in challenges to collect trading cards and earn coins to deck out the player’s crib with various Pokemon-themed merch.
An arcade game only released in Asia, Pokemon Tretta uses tiles called “Tretta” which is where Pokemon of different species stand to take place in three versus three battles.
Including searching and catching gameplay too, some may argue that it offers a quick and easy opportunity to test out the Pokemon series’ main mechanics. The different rarity of Pokemon, ranging from “Standard” to “Ultimate” could also be a quick primer for those getting into the series.
Great Detective Pikachu
Combining the best bits of Winnie the Pooh and Sherlock Holmes, Great Detective Pikachu pitches Pikachu as an intelligent detective who teams up with a boy who can understand it. Together they find clues to solve Pokemon-related mysteries.
Only released in Japan via the eShop, the game was not a huge hit but a live-action Detective Pikachu movie is currently in production and will be released in the west.
While Japan-only release Pokemon Green is mistakenly thought to be the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue, the game offers a few key differences. Namely, it has enhanced Pokemon sprites, certain Pokemon are catchable (as opposed to being exclusive to trades), and different items are available in its PokeMarts as well.
Pokemon LeafGreen is a remake of Green that came west, though it uses a modified version of the Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire game engine.
Surprisingly, the very first Pokemon game on the Nintendo DS wasn’t a main series entry. Instead, Pokemon Dash sees players use the stylus to get Pikachu to run fast through checkpoints in various regions such as lava and swamp environments.
While it was a good way to make people familiar with the DS’ touchscreen functionality, the game sold poorly and received mixed reviews, which is why so few Pokemon fans are familiar with the game.
Another Pokemon spin-off with mixed reviews is Pokemon Rumble, a WiiWare game in which Pokemon get into fisticuffs with other Pokemon. Players can gain ranks, earn coins to buy new Pokemon and attacks, and it supports co-op play too.
Despite the mixed reception, Pokemon Rumble did spawn the Rumble Blast, Rumble U, and Rumble World sequels, but these have mostly flown under the radar too.
Ditching Pokeballs for loops, in Pokemon Ranger the player character is a ranger who captures Pokemon by “looping” them repeatedly with a tool called the styler. With this mechanic, players are able to temporarily catch a Pokemon and uses its abilities to bypass certain obstacles.
The game and its two sequels didn’t exactly light up the charts, but it did at least present a more “humane” side to the series where Pokemon don’t have to live in Pokeballs.
Pokemon Pikachu! (Pocket Pikachu)
Pokemon Pikachu! is the Pokemon series’ answer to Tamagotchi. Essentially a Pokemon-themed pedometer, the more players walk the more watts they get, the closer they become to Pikachu and the more activities they can unlock. Neglect Pikachu, though, and the character will just ignore players altogether.
As harsh as the Pikachu relationship mechanic may be, Pokemon Pikachu! did get a similar follow up called PokeWalker. That is the far more famous iteration, which probably explains why Pokemon Pikachu! is a forgotten relic.
Pokemon Art Academy
Raising the next generation of brilliant artists is Pokemon Art Academy, an educational, download-only title for the Nintendo 3DS. There are only so many masterpieces players can create with a stylus and a small touchscreen, but as it teaches players new techniques such as shading and lets people share their work too, it may well have led to a few Pokemon Picassos.
The Pokemon series offers so many spin-off opportunities and Pokemon GO has caused interest in the series to skyrocket even more. As a result, fans can probably expect more unusual and unexpected Pokemon titles to be released in future.