The Pokemon franchise is one of gaming’s true juggernauts, having been responsible for around half a billion sales since making its debut way back in the mid-nineties. Since then, fans have seen several new creature-collecting titles on each new generation of Nintendo handheld; from the original Game Boy right through to the Nintendo Switch.
Every Pokemon Game On The 3DS, Ranked (According To Metacritic)
Not counting the Pokedex, or Dream Radar apps, there were thirteen Pokemon games on the 3DS. Here they are ranked by Metacritic.
Together with its hybrid nature, the increased power of the Switch has allowed developers to try out a whole host of new ideas, many of which have helped to freshen up the series’ tried yet tired formula. As a result, the best Pokemon games on the Nintendo Switch elevate the series to all-new heights and are well worth checking out.
Updated January 20, 2024, by Tom Bowen: There are plenty of Pokemon Switch games to choose from, each one offering something a little different. Those looking for the best Pokemon game for Switch will need to do a bit of digging though, as not all Pokemon Switch games were created equally. The franchise spans multiple genres too, with some of the spin-off games offering very different experiences from those on offer in the mainline titles. Understanding these differences will likely be important for anyone hoping to find the best Pokemon Switch game, as too will each game’s Metacritic rating. As such, this information has been added below, along with a few other key details about all of the Pokemon games for Switch.
12 Pokemon Quest
Metacritic Rating: 64
Developed by Game Freak and released simultaneously on Switch and mobile devices, Pokemon Quest is an action-adventure game that uses blocky graphics similar to the ones found in Minecraft. It’s a lot like the Pixelmon Minecraft mod in that regard, only a lot more hollow and nowhere near as enjoyable to play.
A big part of this is down to the game’s distinct lack of objectives and the simplistic and repetitive nature of its gameplay. Granted, the latter does make it pretty easy to pick up and play, but with so many great Pokemon games on the Nintendo Switch, it’s difficult to see why anybody would ever want to do that.
- May 30, 2018
11 Pokemon Cafe ReMix
Metacritic Rating: 64
Pokemon Cafe ReMix sees players running their own little cafe. To do so successfully, they’ll need to complete simple puzzles in order to serve visiting Pokemon food and drink. The presentation is pretty cute and the gameplay itself can be a great way to pass the time, though it’s the kind of game that most people will get bored of pretty quickly.
Like most other modern free-to-play titles, the game features in-app purchases, which come in the form of Golden Acorns. Players can use these to continue playing after they run out of lives to avoid having to wait. It’s also possible to purchase unlimited play periods, which can come in handy when tackling some of the more challenging post-game content.
Pokémon Café ReMix
- Genius Sonority
- June 23, 2020
10 Pokemon Unite
Metacritic Rating: 70
Pokemon Unite is a Pokemon-themed MOBA. It’s not a bad game, but there are much better MOBAs out there, which begs the question; why not just play one of those? Sure, it features many fan-favorite Pokemon, but it’s also loaded with predatory microtransactions and is arguably pay-to-win (unless players want to grind for weeks every time they want a new Pokemon, that is).
All that said, there’s certainly fun to be had with Pokemon Unite, and it’s a great entry point to a genre that can be notoriously intimidating for newer players. However, the fact that it seems to be targeting younger kids with its Pokemon branding makes its monetization difficult to ignore and is something that parents should be aware of before letting their children play this game.
- July 21, 2021
9 Detective Pikachu Returns
Metacritic Rating: 66
Detective Pikachu Returns is far from a bad game, but it’s a difficult one to recommend for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it will likely prove to be far too easy for the average player, yet remains just a little too complicated for the younger audience that it seems to be aimed at to play by themselves. This could work well for those with kids who are just starting to get into gaming, but there are arguably much better titles to choose from here.
The story is an incredibly simple one and is easy to understand thanks to how linear everything is. Sadly, unlike the movie, the gameplay can be pretty bland in places and the puzzles require very little brainpower. Of course, this could prove to be appealing for those looking for a relaxing game to coast through during a lazy weekend or something to play with the kids for an hour or two before bedtime over the course of a few weeks.
Detective Pikachu Returns
- Creatures Inc.
- October 6, 2023
8 Pokken Tournament DX
Metacritic Rating: 79
Pokken Tournament started life as a 2015 arcade title before being ported to the Wii U the following year. An enhanced port of the game known as Pokken Tournament DX was then released for the Switch in 2017, bringing with it a few new version-specific Pokemon such as Decidueye, Aegislash, and Blastoise.
Pokemon Spin-Off Tier List
There has been an incredible number of Pokemon spin-off games over the years, covering a wide range of genres but with varying degrees of reception.
As the name might suggest, the game serves as a crossover between the Pokemon and Tekken franchises, with players taking control of one of 23 different Pokemon to partake in classic fighting game-style combat. It reviewed fairly well and can be a lot of fun in short bursts, but definitely lacks the depth of a top-tier fighting game.
Pokken Tournament DX
$56 $60 Save $4
- September 22, 2017
7 Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
Metacritic Rating: 73 (Brilliant Diamond)
Given how great some of the other Pokemon remakes have been, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl came as a bit of a disappointment. Sure, they did bring with them a few nice additions and allowed players to get their hands on a pretty decent selection of Mythical and Legendary Pokemon. However, when compared to the likes of HeartGold & SoulSilver, they definitely came up short.
To be clear, Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are definitely a step up from the originals due to how easily accessible they are. Whether or not the new visuals are all that much better is debatable though, with many fans unhappy with the decision to go with a Chibi art style. They’re not bad games, but they could certainly have been much better.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl
$54 $60 Save $6
- November 19, 2021
6 Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX
Metacritic Rating: 69
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games are nowhere near as popular as the mainline titles, but they’ve managed to attract a fairly sizable fanbase over the years nonetheless. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is a remake of the original Mystery Dungeon titles, which were first released on the DS way back in 2005.
It’s clear that a lot of care and attention went into this remake, both when it comes to the visuals and the gameplay itself. Those who enjoyed the original games will adore what Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX has to offer, as too will anybody who’s grown tired of the tried and tested Pokemon formula but still adores the characters.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
- March 6, 2020
5 Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
Metacritic Rating: 72 (Scarlet)
Pokemon Scarlet & Violet get a lot of things right. The way that players are able to tackle the three main storylines in any order they like is as liberating as the game’s sprawling open world, while online raids and the terra-type mechanic help to further freshen up the classic Pokemon battle formula. There are a lot of great NPCs as well.
Unfortunately, however, the games are either held back by the hardware or were poorly optimized for it ahead of their release. Either way, this can result in an incredibly choppy framerate at times and makes it difficult to recommend the Gen 9 titles to all but the series’ biggest and most ardent fans.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
- November 18, 2022
4 Pokemon Let’s Go, Eevee! & Let’s Go, Pikachu!
Metacritic Rating: 80 (Let’s Go, Eevee!)
Although some may prefer the classic Gen 1 titles, Pokemon Let’s Go, Eevee! & Let’s Go, Pikachu! are undoubtedly far more accessible; both when it comes to obtaining a copy and actually playing through it. The 2018 remakes also offer up some pretty big improvements, not just in the visual department, but also when it comes to the game’s core mechanics.
Pokemon Let’s Go: Which Version To Buy?
Pokemon fans who are still undecided on which version of Pokemon Let’s Go to get can check out this guide that highlights the key differences between the two games.
That the remakes proved to be so popular among fans was perhaps indicative of how stale the series formula was starting to feel, but it’s also a testament to how great the original titles really were. Pokemon Red & Blue helped to spawn one of the largest gaming IPs in existence and being able to reexperience these classic titles with yet another fresh coat of paint should therefore prove to be a real treat for series fans.
Pokemon: Let’s Go
$52 $60 Save $8
- November 16, 2018
3 New Pokemon Snap
Metacritic Rating: 79
New Pokemon Snap is not a mainline title, but it is one of the best Pokemon games on the Nintendo Switch. It serves as the perfect sequel to its 1999 predecessor, providing players with a wide variety of colorful and fun-to-explore locations and a fairly large selection of Pokemon to photograph.
It’s a shame that the game didn’t receive more post-release support, as the one big expansion that it did get was a lot of fun (not to mention free!). Even so, those looking for something a little different would do well to pick up this stunning photography-themed title, particularly if they also happen to like Pokemon.
New Pokémon Snap
- April 30, 2021
2 Pokemon Sword & Shield
Metacritic Rating: 80 (Sword)
Pokemon Sword & Shield may not have shaken things up quite as much as some fans were hoping for, but the Gen 8 titles did at least bring some interesting ideas to the table. They also provided a template for future generations to follow when it came to DLC expansions, with both The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra going down pretty well with players.
The decision to launch with a limited Pokedex was met with some resistance at first, but after the whole Dexit fiasco died down a little and more classic Pokemon were added to the roster, most fans were able to move past it. The Wild Area was easily this generation’s biggest innovation and helped to lay the foundations upon which future Pokemon games would go on to build.
Pokemon Sword and Shield
- November 15, 2019
1 Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Metacritic Rating: 83
When it comes to the best Pokemon Switch game, it’s difficult to look too much further than Pokemon Legends: Arceus. The 2022 title offered fans a glimpse of what an open-world Pokemon game might look like, while also introducing several innovative new ideas and mechanics and building upon some of the ones that debuted in Sword & Shield.
Series fans jumped at the chance to explore an ancient version of the Sinnoh region, which first appeared back in Pokemon Diamond & Pearl. The introduction of Hisuain variants only added to the allure and also opened up the door to the possibility of future Pokemon Legends games that explore the origins of other fan-favorite regions such as Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn.
Pokemon Legends Arceus
- January 28, 2022