Game Freak is known by most people as the developer of Pokémon and not much else. Over their 30 year history, the company has developed over 30 different games, not all of which are Pokémon titles.
It can be hard for their other work to get noticed, in the shadow of one of the largest media franchises of all time. With most developers, not every one of these games is good and not everyone is bad. Here are the 5 best and 5 worst Game Freak games according to Metacritic.
10 Worst: HarmoKnight (73)
The 2013 (2012 in Japan) Nintendo 3DS release of HarmoKnight sees a young boy named Tempo go on a journey to save the princess and fight Noizoids. The game is "rhythm-platformer" meaning that the levels automatically scroll and the game plays on a beat.
The game was received well critically sighting the creativity and enjoyable mechanics. The game got knocked for being easy and very forgiving, a complaint that could be said about the majority of Pokémon titles. This two-button platformer is charming but not enough to gain any large notoriety.
9 Best: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (85)
The first titles in the series to make the jump over to the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl are the first entries in the fourth generation of Pokémon with the third titled of Pokémon Platinum to come a couple of years later. It was the first mainline game to have access to the built-in Wi-Fi capabilities of the system, making it the community title it had always wanted to be.
The game featured a semi-3D overworld and updated 2D graphics for fights but stuck very close to the original style. While the Sinnoh region had great Pokémon and an interesting, if not tired, story, the game was ultimately a slightly shinier version of previous titles.
8 Worst: Tembo The Badass Elephant (70)
Another side-scrolling platformer Tembo the Badass Elephant follows the adventures of its namesake, as he smashes and bashes his way through obstacles on a journey to save Shell City from the evil Phantom army.
While the game is credited with being fun and having a very fluid movement system, it is also knocked for not doing much in the way of creativity. The game doesn't feature much originality past the concept and it gets in the way of itself with some trickery platforming sections that don't fit the style of the game. The game is ultimately good but easily forgettable.
7 Best: Pokémon SoulSilver and HeartGold (87)
With the originals being fan-favorites, its only natural that the remakes Pokémon SoulSilver and Pokémon HeartGold are incredibly popular titles. The remakes gave the old story quest the updated engine from Diamond and Pearl along with the new bells and whistles.
The game also came with the Pokewalker device, which lets you take a Pokémon out with you and level it up, like a Tamagotchi. The titles also carry over the biggest post-game in the series, which is the entire Kanto region, a standard that no other game has lived up to since.
6 Worst: Little Town Hero (64)
Outside of Pokémon Game Freak doesn't typically develope other RPGs and Little Town Hero shows that its probably a good idea. The game touts its lack of filler RPG grinding as a bonus, but still features plenty of filler fights, including a bunch from an overzealous rival, much like Pokémon.
The combat system, while still turn-based, is supposed to be more tactical and problem-solving based which is the most interesting part of the game. The entire game taking place in a single town means its aggressively linear and has only a handful of sidequests, making for an ultimately mediocre title.
5 Best: Pokémon Sun and Moon (87)
If your starting to notice a pattern with the best games, the rest of this list won't be surprising. Pokémon Sun and Moon are the most different entries in the franchise to date doing away with the gym system entirely.
Having tribal challenges and Kahuna's to challenge in this tropical paradise makes for a nice change of pace in a series that rarely ever deviates. While some veterans of the series dislike this much change, critics and the general public embraced the changes that came along. It also made tons of simplifications to the more tedious aspects of the series.
4 Worst: Giga Wrecker Alt (62)
The enhanced port of the PC release, Giga Wrecker Alt doesn't feature any facets of a game made by one of the most successful developers of all-time except for the Game Freak logo at the start of the game.
The game is a 2D physics-based puzzle game, the main gameplay facet being that you gather debris to make objects to solve puzzles. The physics don't work consistently, requiring frustrating attempt after attempt. Coupled with bad checkpoints and instant death traps causes puzzles to have to be completed again making for an all-around awful experience.
3 Best: Pokémon Black and White (87)
Pokémon Black and Pokémon White are as close to a reboot for the series as the games have ever gotten. With a fresh set of Pokémon and not a single familiar face returning for the main story, the game feels like a step towards what fans have always asked for.
The story features very involved and competent villains who bring up some mature questions about the morality of Pokémon and are actually interesting to boot. While the game isn't that massive of a change, none of them are.
2 Worst: Pokémon Quest (62)
Using the wonderful new term"free-to-start" to describe the first Pokémon title on Nintendo Switch is should have been the first red flag. This cube designed world of Pokémon doesn't feature the robust battle system players are used to.
This collection fest requires a massive grind to gain the necessary materials for a chance to try and roll for the Pokémon you want, which may not have the attack you want. If you don't get it, the process must be restarted and without the proper team setup, the expeditions are incredibly difficult. Mobile games are typically bad and this one just reaffirms that frame of mind. There are tons of better spin-off Pokémon games.
1 Best: Pokémon X and Y (88)
Pokémon X and Y serve as the largest graphically jump in the entire series. It also serves as one of the larger generation jumps, featuring a 3D world and a significantly faster-paced game. The game fully expands on the online systems started in the Nintendo DS titles before it and features character customization beyond just picking a gender.
The story hits all the same notes as the previous titles and this game kicks off a Kanto-heavy trend for the next several games, but at the time this game felt like many of the changes Pokémon needed.