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I’ve spent the vast majority of my life as a Pokémon fan. Is that to say I’m the best at the games? No. Does that mean I know every type matching off the top of my head? No. Does this mean I know every Pokémon and their basic stats? No. But that doesn’t diminish how much time I’ve spent enjoying the games in this franchise. But, before I get into ranking the Pokémon games, I’d like to state that I have not played all of them. So, this will only be my ranking of the ones I’ve played in my lifetime. I’m going to divide my rankings into four categories: story, difficulty, replay value, and post-game.
Here is the list of games I have played (bold are the versions I had):
- Soul Silver/Heart Gold
- Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee
- Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
- Legends: Arceus
So, yes, I’m aware there are a lot that I have not played. I didn’t play video games (console and non-educational games) growing up and didn’t have most of the consoles for these. Up until I was in Junior/Senior High School, my main knowledge of Pokémon came from anime and movies.
- Scarlet/Violet has the best storyline. I loved each of the sections in this game. Some of the plots were very emotional and some of the best writing that I’ve seen in Pokémon games. I legit cried a few times, it was that good.
- Legends: Arceus. Not considered a main game in the Pokémon universe, but I’m still going to include it. This game follows your character, who has been yeeted back in time to when Pokedex was written by hand and you had to craft your own Pokeballs. It was an interesting take on the Pokémon world with a fairly good story that heavily referenced Pearl and Diamond. Most of the characters were ancestors of individuals featured in those games.
- Heart Gold. The main reason this one is lower for me is purely it’s been so many years since I played it that I don’t really remember it fully. But I still remember it being good. It followed the classic storyline of you facing off against Team Rocket, had a good rival, and there were so many elements that could be explored.
- Let’s Go Eevee. Basically red, blue, green, and yellow as far as the plot line, but instead of getting one of the Kanto starters, you start out with either Eevee or Pikachu depending on the version you got. So, it’s extremely nostalgic towards those first-ever released games.
- Brilliant Diamond. This game was a classic (remake of the original) but it followed the normal formula for the storyline. So, in that regards it wasn’t memorable. There are other things I have to say about this game but I’ll save those for later sections.
- Sword has the worst story of the games I’ve played. If you have to constantly remind us a character is unbeatable it gets annoying. Not to mention, it’s really easy to guess who is who from the opening scene. There’s no mystery. Not to mention your rival is annoying (sorry Hop) and it holds your hand way too much.
- Brilliant Diamond. The elite four is no easy business. There’s no healing or pausing and Cynthia’s team is known for being one of the most difficult in any Pokémon game. You have to seriously consider your main team before entering into this challenge.
- Heart Gold. I remember sections of this game handing my ass to me. Not to mention needing to grind in order to be ready to face off against gyms. But considering, I can’t 100% remember where it sits against Cynthia, I’m going to rank it slightly lower.
- Scarlet/Violet. Considering the fact there’s no stopping you from going out of order in this game, the game doesn’t scale to where you are. So, you could be facing off against level 60 Pokémon in a quest while you’re only level 40. In that regard, it can be difficult. But if you go back to do things you skipped for the sake of following one questline, things can be extremely easy. You also get healed fully between rounds of the Elite Four and Champion. Which aren’t anything that complicated. So, the difficulty of this game more comes from how you approach it.
- Sword. There aren’t a lot of hard areas in this game, though you do have to plan in some areas. But unlike the precessors to Sword where grinding felt like a chore, Sword/Shield introduced the ability to do Gigantamax Raids which allow you to get candy that can be used to quickly level up Pokémon. Like you could easily catch a Pokémon and then make them level 100 within a matter of an hour of joining raids. Plus, there was an online feature that lets you join others, so there were always raids to join even if the ones in your Wild Area are dim.
- Let’s Go Eevee. When you’re catching Pokémon, you’re not battling in this game. You’re just throwing Pokeballs like you’re playing Let’s Go on your phone. So, in that regards this game is not difficult. You just have to plan for the gyms and the Elite Four then the Champion (aka your rival, Trace). As long as you know match types, and make use of those this game isn’t that difficult.
- Legends: Arceus. There aren’t really gyms in this game so I wouldn’t call it difficult. There are some interesting battles and Pokémon in the wild will straight-up attack you. So, you have to be careful with what you do or they will fluff up your day. Not to mention you have to face off against Lords, but they aren’t battles per se. More like you are trying to tame them by throwing salt at them. And if you aren’t careful to avoid their hits you might have to do the face-offs multiple times.
- Scarlet/Violet. Despite the fact this game has a lot of graphic issues, I think this game is extremely fun. I would 100% go back into this game to explore more. It’s also one of the first ever Pokémon games where I almost completed the entire Pokedex (Arceus being a close second). Not to mention, you can play this game with other people as there is a multi-player function. And Shiny hunting is fairly easy with the use of sandwiches. Along with the fact, there are Tera Raids, there are a lot of things that would make me return to playing this game.
- Sword. Probably one of the games that I have the most hours playing and have actually completed twice. This is why this is high on my list, however, I’m knocking it down a notch for the story as between Sword/Shield and Scarlet/Violet, I’m going to go with Scarlet/Violet. Though most of the things that I love about Scarlet/Violet were first featured in Sword/Shield (Wild Area/ability to see Pokémon in the overworld and Raids).
- Legends: Arceus. Another game I would easily replay. I thought it was insanely fun to do every side quest imaginable, make a team of all the Alpha (giant and stronger) Pokémon, and work on completing the Pokedex. Plus, you don’t need to trade with actual people in order to evolve Pokémon, you can just use a link cable. I wish Game Freak would introduce that in the other games as well because sometimes we don’t have friends that we can trade with and you can’t always trust people online to help you accomplish that task. Though some individuals made it easier to trade for game-exclusive Pokémon (like Austin John Play).
- Brilliant Diamond. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t replay this game. It was fun and all, but it doesn’t offer a lot of things the newer games have that I enjoy. Though the underground mines were cool and reminded me of the Wild Area in Sword, it just doesn’t offer enough where I would spend countless hours going back to. Not to mention you also have to have an HM Slave, whose sole purpose was to help you advance the plot in areas. At least in Brilliant Diamond, it didn’t have to be a member of your team, a Bidoof would just appear to do that for you unlike in the original Diamond.
- Heart Gold. Another game I probably will never replay, but that’s mainly because I don’t have the console for it anymore. Though if I did, I would probably replay it once for the sense of nostalgia then never play it again.
- Let’s Go Eevee. It was a fun, cute game but there wasn’t much that would make me go back to this game to replay it. Though we did get the ability to see Pokémon in the overworld, which I really like to see in games. But the lack of actually being able to battle those Pokémon, kind of takes away from the fun.
- Heart Gold. Once you’ve beaten the main game, you go from the Johto region to Kanto and get to play the first games all over again for the post-game. So, you’re not only the champion in one region but two. Then you can face off against all sixteen gym leaders again and unlock the battle frontier. You also get the chance to catch several legendary Pokémon. As far as post-games go, this one has the most to offer with a whole second region.
- Legends: Arceus. Incredible post-game, you go around collecting all the legendary Pokémon before facing off against Cynthia’s ancestor not to mention you explore a plotline centered around mass outbreaks. There’s a lot to do in the post-game especially as Arceus request that you collect every single Pokémon then it’ll allow you the chance to catch it. Which is a tough fight considering Arceus has a move called judgment which is a one-shot kill move.
- Scarlet/Violet. A relatively short post-game where you go back through all the gyms to battle the trainers again, but their Pokémon are at higher levels. Then you do a battle competition against various individuals you came across on your journey (some you didn’t get to fight before). Which made it really fun.
- Sword. If you discount the two DLCs, then the Post-Game was awful. The characters you face are annoying and going back to the gyms is just going against a Gigantamax Pokémon, so it’s not hard. However, if we count the DLC, I would say that makes up for a lot as they were extremely interesting and one of them involved going after Legendary Pokémon shattered throughout the world.
- Brilliant Diamond. After you beat Cynthia, the post-game won’t start unless you complete the regional dex (145 Pokémon). Then you get another area to explore that includes the battle tower (something I’ve never been interested in) and catching legendaries along with facing off against the Gym Leaders and Elite 4 again once you’ve completed the National Pokedex (490 Pokémon). Not going to lie, I didn’t end up doing that aspect of the post-game as Legends: Arceus had already come out. There isn’t much of a story to it, but it is something you can do.
- Let’s Go Eevee. There isn’t really a post-game unless you count getting to go to Cerulean Cave to get Mewtwo.
How would you rank the Pokémon games?
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