Pokemon Trading Card Game

The Pokemon Trading Card game for the GBC was a lot better than people probably think it was. The game debuted early in the TCG’s lifetime, so it includes only the first generation of cards, but the core gameplay intact in the GBC title. Playing a duel and organizing your cards is surprisingly intuitive on the system, as well. The card graphics mimic the art of the original cards and look fantastic, and the music is upbeat and memorable. Really, Pokemon TCG is a very solid game, stifled only by a bit of grinding for cards you may need.

Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO is simply an international phenomenon. It doesn’t matter if GO is good or not, with 11 million users playing the game years after release. GO encourages people to go outside, catch Pokemon, and be active. The mobile game had an extremely rocky and somewhat barren start, but new Pokemon content has been added over the years, enticing players to come back again. It can be hard to build up a good team without grinding, and if you’re far away from Pokestops getting Pokeballs can be a drag, but Pokemon GO brings consistently in new players regardless.

Pokemon Ultra Moon

Pokemon Sun is great, but Pokemon Ultra Moon magnifies the problems of the Gen 7 games. Ultra Moon is an expanded version of Moon, meaning it’s largely the same game, but with additional cutscenes… that you can’t skip. After playing Sun once, the cutscenes become very tiresome, and the new scenes don’t add much. All of the post-game content is really great, but it comes with the caveat of getting through the main game first. If you didn’t play S/M, Ultra S/M is the definitive version, but it’s a hard recommendation if you’ve already played Sun or Moon.

Pokemon Sun

You need to give credit where it’s due — Pokémon Sun tries to shake up Pokémon series standards. HMs are finally gone, Gyms are replaced with trials, and there’s an increased focus on the story in the region of Alola. However, not everything works as well as it should, especially when cutscenes are unskippable. That’s a pretty standard thing in 2016! Besides the copious cutscenes, Pokémon Sun is fun and snappy. The Alola forms are a nice change-up and are pulled off better than Mega Evolutions too. It promises a new direction for the series, that hopefully Generation 8 will learn from.

Pokken Tournament

Drop some Pokemon into an arena, and what do you get (besides, well, normal Pokemon)? Pokken Tournament is the series’ fighting genre spin-off, using mechanics from Tekken to make a Poke-fighter. The gameplay mechanics are more beginner-friendly than Tekken, which is great for those intimidated by the main fighting series. Phase Shifting keeps battles interesting, though eventually, I started using the same combos with Pikachu Libre to trounce the computer opponents. Pokken’s story mode is also bland and tedious, which is unfortunate but understandable. Pokken is a solid fighter for beginners, and Pikachu Libre is adorable so we all win.

Pokemon Black

Pokemon Black does something none of the other games do. Black restricts what Pokémon you can catch, only having Unova region Pokémon available in the main game. Getting to only catch new Pokemon tickled a sense of nostalgia for me — playing through the game blind at launch felt like playing Pokemon Red all over again. Black also has a decent plot, with N being a far more interesting rival than anyone before or since. Black also takes the first steps to speed up battles and experience gain, cutting down on grinding. Pokemon Black is definitely one of the series’ high points.

Pokemon Picross

It’s Pokemon, and it’s Picross. How could you mess that up? By making it free-to-play and adding in premium currencies and stamina bars. Technically you could complete Pokemon Picross without spending money, but if you don’t spend thirty dollars to get enough Picrites to unlock everything you need, you’ll be stuck in an endless grinding loop. Even with the money investment, you can still get stuck without the Pokemon you need to progress. Why can’t this be a simple Picross title with Pokemon themed puzzles to figure out? People would have paid for that without the F2P nonsense.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee

Let’s Go Eevee is the definition of cute. Your partner Eevee makes cute noises and rides on your head… and you also feel bad they faint in battle. Thankfully battling isn’t necessary to level up, as you earn more experience chaining together capturing Pokémon with the Go-style system. Other than that and seeing Pokemon in the field, Let’s Go is a pseudo-remake/sequel of Pokemon Yellow, and visiting Kanto again is nice but offers nothing new to veterans. But when your Eevee proudly present you with a useless item you can’t help but melt over how cute it is.