Six generations of Pokemon games have released over the last 20 years of the franchise's existence, and we rank each generation in the series from worst to best.
20 years ago, the Pokemon franchise was introduced to the world, and changed the face of gaming forever. Pokemon has become one of the most popular and successful media franchises of all time since the first two games debuted in Japan in 1996, and the result has been an endless stream of games starring the iconic pocket monsters.
While the various spinoffs have been met with different levels of enthusiasm from franchise fans, each Pokemon generation in the main series has released to positive reviews and millions of sales. Even so, some Pokemon generations have proven to have a more significant impact on the series than others, and with Pokemon Sun and Moon set to launch later this year, we decided to rank each generation from worst to best.
In honor of the upcoming release of Pokemon Sun and Moon and in recognition of the franchise's 20th anniversary, here are the generations of Pokemon so far, ranked from worst to best:
6. Pokemon Black & White (Gen V)
As the second generation of Pokemon games released on the Nintendo DS, Pokemon Black and White didn't have any new technology to take advantage of, which puts the fifth generation at a disadvantage compared to most of the other ones on the list. Even so, Black and White did introduce some cool new features to the series, such as triple battles and fully animated Pokemon – a precursor to the graphical leap that would come with Pokemon X & Y a few years later.
Where Black and White falters compared to other games in the series, is perhaps in regards to some of the new Pokemon it debuted. For example, it was with the Black and White generation that we were subjected to Pokemon based on ice cream, candles, and even bags of trash. Here's hoping the new Pokemon designs in Sun and Moon are a little more creative.
5. Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (Gen IV)
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were the first main series Pokemon games that graced the Nintendo DS. As a result, the games are packed with new features, including online multiplayer gameplay and a number of side activities that are still seen in the games to this day. Even with these advancements, though, Diamond and Pearl failed to take full advantage of the graphical capabilities of the Nintendo DS, and also played it safe in terms of gameplay – hence why this particular generation is not higher on the list.
4. Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (Gen III)
While the third generation of Pokemon games didn't offer much in terms of brand new features, the games made some important tweaks to the core gameplay. For example, Ruby and Sapphire are the first games in the series where Pokemon have abilities and natures, which has had major implications on competitive gameplay for the franchise. Furthermore, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire also featured some of the most popular starter Pokemon to date, in the form of Treecko, Torchic, and Mudkip.
3. Pokemon X & Y (Gen VI)
Representing one of the biggest graphical leaps in the series so far, Pokemon X and Y brought the series to the 3DS in a big way, but the games didn't just boast shiny new graphics. On the contrary, they also improved character customization, added the Fairy-type classification to Pokemon, introduced sky battles, and more. X and Y also originated the Mega Evolution concept, which has offered unique twists on some of the most beloved creatures in the franchise.
2. Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow (Gen I)
When it comes to Pokemon, it's hard to beat the originals. The first generation of Pokemon started it all, kicking off a multimedia phenomenon that is still going strong to this day. While the graphics may be primitive by today's standards, and the original games may lack some of the bells and whistles added to the later titles, the first generation lays a compelling foundation that is one of the most unique gameplay experiences available. There's a reason why fans were excited to play the original Pokemon games on the 3DS, and as our Pokemon Yellow review will attest, it's not just the nostalgia talking.
1. Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal (Gen II)
Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal featured all the best bits about the first generation of games, and took everything to the next level. The visuals were improved thanks to the Game Boy Color, a day/night cycle was introduced, dark and steel-types were added to the series, and on top of all that, Pokemon breeding made its debut in the second generation as well. To this date, the second generation of Pokemon is possibly the best the series has had to offer, and it will be exciting to see if the seventh generation's Sun and Moon are able to top it.
With the seventh generation of Pokemon set to launch later this year as Pokemon Sun and Moon, it will be interesting to see how those games compare to the previous generations. One thing is for certain, though, and that is that Sun and Moon has an impressive legacy to live up to, as Game Freak has set the bar high with all the other main series Pokemon games released so far.
What's your favorite Pokemon game? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!