The hardest things to rank in life are things that are great. Go ahead, try to rank your favorite fast food spots, or the best HBO shows. By the way, if Taco Bell and The Wire aren’t in your top three for those respective lists then you’re just wrong. But I digress, Pokémon is among these nearly perfect things that are just an absolute pain to rank. Due to nostalgia, ranking the Pokémon franchise can be a bit difficult, but it certainly isn't impossible.
There really isn’t a wrong answer per say, and usually I’d stop here to say “well unless you put Black and White here or SoulSilver,” but no, all these games are great in their own right if we’re being fair. That being said, however, there can only be one game that sits atop the iron throne – and boy was it tough deciding which one that was.
15 Yellow (Gen 1)
It's hard to put Yellow at the bottom of this list, especially since it's the ultimate version of the original games. But with a series like Pokémon, it’s just too dang hard to rank some of these games and if we’re being honest Yellow didn’t add enough to merit it a higher spot on this list. Sure it was cool having a talking Pikachu as a starter, but looking back on it this one just doesn’t hold up. Not a bad game by any means, but one that can easily fit this spot.
14 Ruby/Sapphire (Gen 3)
It’s unfortunate to lump these games this low, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Ruby and Sapphire are pretty awesome entries in the franchise and brought a few additions that are still being used today. Pokémon now had natures, immunity to certain moves, and we also saw the glorious addition of double battles. Ruby and Sapphire get their dues though, with a recent remake in 2014 and enough love from the fan base. Every fan loves Hoenn, thing is, there’s just better games that came down the line.
13 Let's Go, Pikachu!/Let's Go, Eevee!
Honestly a solid game for what it was. However, despite the superior graphics and a wicked sense of nostalgia, this one still loses out to the original Red and Blue – and definitely loses out to Fire Red and Leaf Green. I can only imagine your disappointment if you, like many others, expected this to be a main line entry in the franchise, but I digress. Disappointment aside this game is really fun and crazy addicting. Hopefully this was only a taste of what we can expect with Sword and Shield.
12 X/Y (Gen 6)
X and Y proved that the Pokémon could continue to innovate even when most thought the series was soon going to plateau. Sure most of that innovation comes in the form of this being the first fully 3D Pokémon game, but X and Y brought a lot more than that to the table. The games featured the best online system in any entry to date, an incredibly immersive world, and a great soundtrack to boot. Problem was, many fans felt like X and Y didn’t truly live up to its potential – and we’d have to agree.
11 Red/Blue/Green (Gen 1)
Let’s get the praise out of the way first. It’s the one that started everything. The first 151 Pokémon were birthed in Red and Blue, including some of the most iconic in the series. It started an uproar on Twitch when 1.1 million people chimed in to play the same game. And overall, it’s a staple in video game history. This is a must play, but it’s just hard to put it above the future entries which fine tuned everything this masterpiece brought to the table.
10 Diamond/Pearl (Gen 4)
It’s hard for me not to be nostalgic. It was the entry that introduced me to the series and my oh my, that soundtrack! Don’t even get me started with all that great music this game was pumping out. Plus, it added some quality fan favorites including a solid group of starters, Garchomp, and the beloved, but (pretty) overrated Lucario. And Cynthia is still hands down the best champion you had to face. Sure this game had its flaws, the region is a little forgettable when compared to the rest, but this entry is as solid as it gets.
9 Sun/Moon (Gen 7)
Now this is how you do a 3D Pokémon game! Sun and Moon was the most fun I've had with the series in a very long time; and most critics would agree. This was the best set of starters we’d received in a while and the new Alolan version Pokémon were undoubtedly cool. The region was one of the all-time best in the series and while the story wasn’t as strong, the addition of Ultra Beasts made for a very enticing new element. Sun and Moon is a must play for any fan.
8 Black 2/White 2 (Gen 5)
Unpopular opinion here, but I think the OG Black and White are better than the sequels. These games did mark the first time that a direc sequel was made for an entry — something that hasn’t happened since — and added many improvements to the first set of games. Taking place two years after the events of the originals, Black and White 2 took you to a new region in Unova and featured a whole set of new Pokémon to catch. Solid game, buuuuuut...
7 Black/White (Gen 5)
...this one is better. Technically speaking, there is an argument here for why I’m wrong. Narratively speaking, there’s no competition. Black and White offers one of the best stories in the franchise – it’s tough to get into all the specifics here, but what you get here is a much more mature narrative packed full of interesting characters. The villains actually have sensible motivation in this game instead of wanting to destroy the world for the sake of destroying the world. Some fans might not agree with this game being this high up, but boy do I enjoy it.
6 Emerald (Gen 3)
Alright, time to separate the men from the slightly less manlier men – because let’s face it, all the games up to this point are seriously some of the best video games ever made. But these ones coming up, they’re a little different. Ruby and Sapphire fell very early to this list, so why, you may ask is the complete, more upgraded version included this far? Rayquaza, that’s why. Ok, ok, ok – you’re right, that can’t be the only reason and yes, there is one more absolutely pivotal reason. You can also catch ditto. “BOOM!” Game of the Century right here.
5 Crystal (Gen 2)
What could be better than “Game of the Century?” you may wonder. Well, Pokémon Crystal (and five other games to come). For the ill-informed, Pokémon Crystal is the complete version of Gold and Silver, two of the best games to ever grace the Pokémon franchise… more on that later. Crystal might’ve been a “technically” superior game compared to the OGs, but it’s still not the truly ultimate version of Gold and Silver. Still, Suicune is dope and this game is as solid as a Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
4 Platinum (Gen 4)
Pokémon Platinum showed the gaming world how to make an ultimate version of a previous game. Platinum builds upon Diamond and Pearl, bringing so many dang features, we didn’t even know what to do with all of them. There was a new Wi-Fi Plaza which featured a lot of new content like matchmaking. On top of that, there were several more additions added to the game that still show up in the most recent versions of Pokémon. Another must play.
3 Fire Red/Leaf Green (Gen 3)
These games likely have a special place in every Pokémon fan’s heart – and for good reason. These games took the original games – which, mind you, still hold up to this day as Twitch plays Pokémon showed – and made them as good as they could possibly get. The graphics are severely updated and these games still retain everything that made the OGs so great. There’s really just not much more to say except get up out of the chair, fire up your Game Boy Advances and have a hard to believe time.
2 Gold/Silver (Gen 2)
Don’t get it twisted, Red and Blue ignited the flame that is the sensational series of Pokémon. However, the originals were quickly overtaken after they handed off the baton to their superior sequels – Gold and Silver. These games brought everything but the kitchen table – Shiny Pokémon, items your Pokémon could hold, and a real-time clock that would trigger a variety of events, like when Pokémon appeared – just to name a few. This game is all around perfect beast of a game. So what could beat it you might ask...
1 HeartGold/SoulSilver (Gen 4)
...The ultimate version of Gold and Silver, that’s what. Like Fire Red and Leaf Green, these games added so many awesome improvements while still being faithful to the original Gold and Silver games. Plus, these games came out on the DS, so any Pokémon fan of any age could easily enjoy these masterpieces. Really, I could go on and on about every element of these incredible games. But trust me, you want to play these bad boys for yourself and with summer right on our doorstep, there’s no better time.